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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Magnolia grandiflora - Southern Magnolia

Southern Magnolia is a large evergreen flowering tree to about 50-60' tall and 30-40' wide forming a round topped canopy with massive branches and large leaves. Slow to medium grower. Native to southeastern US. These are my favorites, at the Aptos Hotel and in the parking lot on Church St in SC.

Leaves are evergreen, simple, elliptical shaped,  6-10" long, dark glossy green upper surface and usually some amount of copper colored hairs on the bottom surface, some more so than others, margins entire.

Stems stout, may be covered with the same copper hairs or smooth depending on the specimen. Distinct line around the stem at the nodes.

Flowers are pure white, large, 8-10" in diameter and often pretty high up in the tree. Flowers form a nice open bowl shape when opening in spring into summer. Fragrant as well but you better be tall. Lots of sex parts, males on bottom. 

Fruit looks like a cone of some sort but is really a woody aggregation of follicles that open up on one suture and release or showoff an orange seed. Below is a mature one and an immature one. The small dots below the fruit area is where the stamens were attached.

Bark is smooth and gray.

Many cultivars exist but the easiest one to identify is 'Little Gem'. Everything is smaller, size to 20' x 10' wide and leaves to about 6".

Misidentification: can't think of anything. Maybe a Ficus but not ones that grow here.

Aptos Hotel on Soqule Dr. parking lot on Church between Cedar and Center.

Santa Cruz: Downtown, Church St between Cedar and Center.

Watsonville: Holohan near East Lake.

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