Flora of the Southeastern United States
2022 Edition


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Magnolia macrophylla Michaux. Subgenus: Magnolia. Section: Macrophylla. Bigleaf Magnolia. Phen: May-Jun; Jul-Aug. Hab: Mesic forests, primarily over limestone, other calcareous sedimentary rocks (calcareous shales, sandstones, etc.), or mafic rocks (east of the Blue Ridge), mesic hammocks in the Coastal Plain. Dist: S. OH and sw. VA south through e. TN to w. GA, west to AL, MS, n. LA, and se. AR (Sundell et al. 1999); disjunct on Crowleys Ridge in ne. AR (population now extirpated), c. and nc. SC, and e. SC (where probably not native). The range of this species is sometimes stated in such a way as to imply that it is a tree of the southern Blue Ridge, which it barely and marginally enters. Actually, it avoids the Southern Blue Ridge, reaching its greatest abundance in the sedimentary rock Appalachians west of the Blue Ridge, particularly the Cumberland Plateau, and occurs east of the Blue Ridge only as a rare disjunct.

ID notes: The leaves are up to 1.1 meter long and 3.5 dm wide. The large size of the leaves, the small lobes (auricles) at the base of the leaf, and the strongly whitened lower leaf surface separate it from all other species in our flora, except its sister species, Magnolia macrophylla, which is allopatric (not geographically overlapping) in the FL Panhandle.

Origin/Endemic status: Endemic

Syn: = Ar, C, F, FNA3, G, K1, K3, K4, NY, RAB, S, Tn, Va, W, Hardin & Jones (1989), Vázquez-García et al (2016); = Magnolia macrophylla ssp. macrophylla – Frodin & Govaerts (1996), Spongberg (1998), Tobe (1998); = Metamagnolia macrophylla ssp. macrophylla – Sima & Lu (2012)

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image of plant© Emily Oglesby
image of plant© Grant Morrow Parkins
image of plant© J.W. Hardin
image of plant© Emily Oglesby