The southern magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora, thrives in wet to mesic hammocks in northern and central peninsula counties. There is a Magnolia species growing on the streets of Lee County, but it is not the M. grandiflora. Typically there is a single trunk, (the main axis), with a thin bark. The tree is of pyramidal or a Christmas tree shape. The height commonly 50’, but sometimes 100’. The tree is supported by a deep tap root and an extensive root system.
The grandiflora has a dense growth of smooth, leathery, evergreen leaves shiny on top and dark underneath. Leaves are simple and alternate on the branches. Leaf shape ovate. Length 4“ to 7” long and 2” to 4” wide. Margins entire.
The flora structure is rather strange. The flower’s calyx has three large sepals with a light brown color. The corolla consists of six to ten large white petals. At the middle of the corolla is a reddish stalk with stamen scars of older stamens that fell off. On top of the stalk is a cone like cluster of carpels. The corolla is a bit stretched. Flower diameter is about 6” to 8”. Flowers emerge at the tips of the twigs and branches. The inflorescence is terminal. Flowers are bisexual. Fruits are drupe seed pods. Blooms occur spring and summer. Flowers have a strong citronella fragrance. Family is Magnoliaceae. There are six species in the Genus Magnolia all native.
by Jim Rodwell