Forest 7 - Southern magnolia

Magnolia grandiflora 'Exmouth'    Southern magnolia

Magnolia grandiflora exmouth flower in Forest 7 Magnolia grandiflors exmouth tree. Photo not from Arboretum.

Other common names

Bull bay

Origin of the species name

Magnolia is named afterPierre Magnol, (1638 – 1715) once director of Montpellier Botanic Garden in France; grandiflora is Latin for large flowered.



Date Planted

September 2009


Southern magnolias can live for over 200 years.

General description

This is a large evergreen tree, typically with a single trunk and a pyramidal shape. The bark is smooth when young but becomes lightly furrowed. It has large dark-green leathery leaves and large white fragrant flowers. The tree produces a rose-coloured fruit. Height 20m Spread 12m.

Natural distribution and habitat

The species is native to southern USA where it is found scattered with other forest species in rich moist soils on the edges of bodies of water and swamps. No part of its natural range is higher than 150 m in elevation.

Conservation status

Although it is not regarded as a threatened species, it is killed by summer fires, and is now missing from habitats that have undergone regular burning.


Its timber is hard and heavy, and has been used to make furniture, boxes, pallets, venetian blinds, sashes, doors and as veneers. Symbolic of the American South, it is the state tree of Louisiana and Mississippi, and the state flower of Mississippi and Louisiana. The flower was also used as an emblem of the Confederate army in the United States civil war.

Planting pattern

Planted in a regular grid, surrounding 20 rare Magnolia delavayi trees.

Further reading

Palmer, C (2008) Trees and Forests of North America. Abrams.