Pic of the Day – Magnolia virginiana var. australis ‘Green Shadow’

The pure white flowers are deliciously fragrant.

The pure white flowers are deliciously fragrant.

Few trees have as good a pedigree as this magnolia.  Plantsman Don Shadow of Shadow Nursery in Tennessee selected this plant from a large batch of seedlings he grew out from the late Dr. J.C. MacDaniel, a prolific plant breeder from the University of Illinois.  Magnolia virginiana var. australis ‘Green Shadow’ makes a neatly oval outlined tree to about 30′ tall by about half as wide.  The clean, green foliage with silvery backs is highlighted by virginal white flowers to 3″ across over an extended period from spring well into summer.  The heaviest flowering is early in the season but sporadic flowers appear for up to 4 months.  The sweet, lemon scented flowers are followed by curious bulbous reddish fruit which can actually be quite showy.  This is one of the fastest growing of the southern (var. australis) types of sweetbay magnolia we’ve grown here at the JC Raulston Arboretum.  This tree is reliably evergreen through USDA hardiness zone 7 but can be grown in much colder climates.  Magnolia virginiana grows naturally in swampy soils and while perfectly happy in drier spots, it also tolerates permanently and seasonally wet locations and makes a great specimen in rain gardens.

Multi-stemmed and low-branched trees can be especially attractive.

Multi-stemmed and low-branched trees can be especially attractive.

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