Native Plants Recommendations: Sweetbay Magnolia

It's been a long time since we featured a tree on the Native Plants Series!



The native Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) can be found throughout the eastern US states in swamps and wet soil conditions. There are many varieties available, some evergreen, some decidious. They produce 3" white lemon-scented flowers in spring and summer. Depending on the variety, they can be single-stemmed or multi-stemmed.


Sweetbay magnolias prefer wet to moist acidic soils. Some cultivated varieties can tolerate clay and sand. They should be planted in spring, since fall planting may result in rotted roots over the winter. These guys are a host plant to about 20 native butterflies and moths, including the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, the Spicebush Swallowtail, and the Great Leopard Moth.


As always with native trees, make sure you do not have grass underneath them. The compacted soil of a lawn will prevent those beneficial insects from being able to burrow into the soil to complete their life cycle. Green mulch is great!


Sources: National Wildlife Foundation; "Essential Native Trees and Shrubs for the Eastern US", Dove and Woolridge

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