Magnolia virginiana ‘Moonglow’
The lemon scent of the Sweetbay, or Magnolia virginiana, blossoms on an early summer evening are like nothing else. The 2- to 3-inch, cream-colored flowers, while very attractive individually, would be visually overwhelming if they appeared in too large of numbers, but they don't. Instead, the blooms appear a few at a time over a period of four to six weeks, giving us a lovely aroma that begins about the first of June and lasts well into July. As summer breezes stir the leaves, they expose the silvery undersides, adding to the soft, ornamental beauty of the plant. The red fruit appears in late summer. And Sweetbay is very attractive even in winter!
Sweetbays are native to marshy areas of Appalachia and tolerate wet feet better than most Magnolias. Pest- and disease-resistant, they are available in clump or single stem and grow 10'-35' tall with a similar spread. The leaves are deciduous in northern parts of the country but evergreen in the Deep South.
Sweetbay can be used as a specimen, a corner accent, or an understory plant, but possibly the best use is to place it in the foreground of brick or stone masonry. Sweetbay also makes an almost perfect contrast plant for both broadleaf deciduous trees and evergreen conifers.
The genus name, Magnolia, honors Pierre Magnol, a French botanist who lived from 1638-1715, while the species - virginiana - means of Virginia.
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