Orders for plugs will ship the week of April 15th.

To request an alternate delivery week, reply to your order confirmation email.

Free shipping on ALL plant orders!

Magnolia virginiana

sweetbay add to wishlist

Plant types and subtypes: Trees & Shrubs, Trees, Shrub-like Trees, Deciduous

Light Requirements: sun, part-sun, part-shade

Water Use: medium

Soil Moisture: moist, wet

Soil Description: acid, rich, loam, clay, sand

Height: 12'-30'

Bloom Time: May, June, July

Bloom Color: white

Leaf Color: green

Hardiness Zone: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Additional Tags: attracts birds, fragrant flowers, fragrant plant, pond margin plant, salt tolerant, semi-deciduous, showy fruit, stream margin plant, swamp plant, wetland plant

Magnolia virginiana (sweetbay)
  • Magnolia virginiana (sweetbay)
  • Magnolia virginiana (sweetbay)
  • Magnolia virginiana (sweetbay)
  • Magnolia virginiana (sweetbay)

Pricing & Availability


Magnolia virginiana

Also known as:



sweetbay magnolia




swamp magnolia




beaver tree

Scientific Synonyms:


Magnolia virginiana is a low growing, multi-stemmed tree that typically reaches a mature height of 30', occasionally 60' in the south under ideal conditions. The form is upright with an irregular crown. It is deciduous in the colder parts of its natural range, semi-deciduous to evergreen in warmer areas. The leaves are oblong, smooth, glossy green above, frosted and whitish below. Along with the twigs, they exude a mild fragrance reminiscent to that of bay laurel, hence the common name "sweetbay". The flowers are large, up to 6" across, cup-shaped, creamy white and very fragrant. They can often be smelled from hundreds of yards away. It does not bloom as abundantly as some other species, but the flowering time can extend from mid-spring, well into summer. The fruit appear as showy, tight cone-like clusters of red berry-like seeds.


Magnolia virginiana is easy to grow in slightly acidic, rich, moist soil. Unlike most magnolias, it is tolerant of wet, boggy soils and even heavy saturated clay. Often found along swamps and wetland margins, it will tolerate regular to seasonal inundation in up to 3" of water, and is moderately salt resistant. It is best grown in full sun, but will tolerate part-shade. Its form will tend to become leggy under low light conditions. It has a suckering habit that can easily be controlled. Stems and lower branches can be removed to create a single trunk encourage a more typical tree form. Any pruning should be done during the growing season. This tree can be used effectively as a foundation plant and specimen for residential gardens, or planted in groups along woodland margins and water features. Blooms in May, then sporadically through July. Zones 6-10


Propagate in summer from semi-hardwood cuttings. Can be propagated from freshly collected seeds. Stored seeds will require a period of cold stratification. Viability is low.

Additional Notes

This species was discovered in 1678, and its blooms came to typify all flowers, hence the botanical class "Magnoliophyta", which means: flowering plants.

Native Range & Classification

Recorded County Distribution: USDA data

Native Range:


Kingdom Plantae Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida Dicotyledons
Subclass Magnoliidae
Order Magnoliales
Family Magnoliaceae Magnolia family
Genus Magnolia magnolia
Species Magnolia virginiana sweetbay