Quick Facts

Species Type

Native

Size

20 to 30 feet tall

Habitat

Forested swamps and wetlands, as well as along stream banks; can be planted in wet and moist areas in yards

Range

Throughout most of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, except West Virginia.

Conservation Status

Threatened

Appearance

The sweetbay magnolia has long, oval leaves that grow 4 to 6 inches in length. The leaves are shiny, smooth and leathery on top, whitish on the bottom and have blunt tips. They may turn brown in winter. Large, creamy white flowers bloom in May to July. The sweetbay magnolia grows 20 to 30 feet tall.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Bundles of dark red seeds are produced in early autumn. Animals such as squirrels and songbirds spread the seeds.

Did You Know?

  • Sweetbay magnolias in the Chesapeake Bay region usually only grow about 20 feet tall, but in the southern U.S. they can grow to 90 feet.
  • They are listed as an endangered species in New York and a threatened species in Pennsylvania.
  • Sweetbay leaves smell spicy when crushed.
  • Early colonists referred to magnolias as beavertrees because they used the tree’s fragrant roots as bait in beaver traps.

Sources and Additional Information