55. Evergreen Magnolia

(Magnolia grandiflora)

Other Common Names: Southern Magnolia, Bull Bay

Family: Magnoliaceae

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An Evergreen Magnolia enjoys the hot, sunny southwest corner of the Atmospheric Sciences Building. One the world's most  famous ornamental trees, this species is native to the southern United States, where it grows large enough and fast enough to be a commercially valuable lumber tree. Large, waxy evergreen leaves make it look like a gigantic houseplant. The leaves have fine red-brown fuzz on the underside.  From May until winter it opens a succession of fragrant white blossoms, as much as a foot (0.3 meters) wide. After the blossoms, fuzzy brown cones appear and ripen in the fall and produce bright red seeds. The name magnolia commemorates Pierre Magnol (1638-1715) a French professor of botany at Montpelier.

The roots of the evergreen magnolia can extend up to four times the canopy width. The wood is shock resistant, straight grained and tinted yellow or green.  It is used for furniture, boxes, pallets, venetian blinds, sashes, doors, and veneers.  The waxy coating on the leaves protects this tree from salt spray and air pollution. Extremely cold winters can turn the foliage bronze-colored and blotchy.

[Leaves and seed pod of Evergreen Magnolia]

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