Dwarf Southern Magnolia — March 2012 Tree of the Month

Karan A. Rawlins, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

Karan A. Rawlins, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

Dwarf Southern Magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora, is the tree I would like to enter as the  tree of the Month in Ewing. This beautiful tree, which stands in front of my home in the Brae Burn neighborhood, is about 25 feet tall, is pyramidal in shape, and has magnificent plump, shiny green leaves which remain a brilliant green all winter. We bought it at a nursery in Pennsylvania 10 or 12 years ago, at which time it measured about 8 feet tall with a trunk diameter of 2 inches. In summer the tree bears gorgeous, huge, milky white flowers with a dark burgundy and yellow center, that measure more than 5 inches across. The blooms give off a sweet, lemony citrus scent that permeates the air. People stop by my home all year long to ask about this tree, where I got it, and what kind of tree it is, complimenting me on its beauty.

During blooming time I often bring a single flower into my home and float it in a bowl of water; it perfumes the house for two days with its sweet fragrance. After the blooms die off, a large fruit forms which resembles an upright cone and it contains many small, red seeds. The fruit stays on the tree well into winter, when they begin to fall off.

Magnolia grandiflora can tolerate some shade and is hardy into USDA Hardiness Zone 6, which is where we are in Ewing. The non- dwarf varieties can reach 60 to 80 feet in height with a spread of 30 to 50 feet. The commonest dwarf varieties are ‘Little Gem’ and ‘Kay Parris’, which may reach a height of 25’. This tree is not vulnerable to any major insects or diseases and can be used as a screen, a hedge, or as a handsome specimen.

The Ewing Environmental Commission (eec@ewingnj.org)  welcomes suggestions for the Tree of the Month from all Ewing residents.

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