Common name: Sweetbay magnolia, swamp magnolia
Botanical name: Magnoila virginiana
Virtues: Wonderfully fragrant flowers that appear from late spring to midsummer. Hosts the larvae of swallowtail butterflies. Fall berries attract birds. Tolerates wet soil.
Flowers: Cream-colored 3-inch flowers appear in earnest in late spring. Blooming persists through midsummer, though it may be sparse. Strong, pleasant lemony fragrance. Fruit ripens from green to red in late summer.
Foliage: Deciduous in the north; evergreen in the south. Leaves are bright green on top and silver on the undersides, with a spicy scent. Oval, to 5 inches long.
Habit: Mulitstemmed tree with a rounded or pyramidal shape. Grows 10 to 30 feet tall in the north and 40 to 60 feet tall in the south.
Origin: Coastal plains from Cape Cod (Massachusetts) through the southeastern United States.
Cultivation: Requires moist acidic soil. Tolerates wet soil. Full sun to part shade. Useful in a bird/butterfly garden. Site it where its fragrance can be enjoyed. USDA Zones 5 to 10.
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