T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Magnolia macrophylla (Bigleaf magnolia)

Kingdom:   Plantae
(unranked):        Angiosperms
(unranked):        Magnoliids
Order:       Magnoliales
Family:      Magnoliaceae
Genus:      Magnolia
Subgenus:  M. subg. Magnolia
Section:     M. sect. Macrophylla
Species:     M. macrophylla
Binomial name:  Magnolia macrophylla
Common name: Bigleaf magnolia, Large-leaved cucumber tree

Magnolia macrophylla is a deciduous tree native to the south-eastern United States and eastern Mexico. This species is distinguished from other magnolias by the large, green, oblong-obovate leaf size, 25–80 cm long and 11–30 cm broad. The tree's branches often bend under the weight of this heavy foliage. The trees average height is 15-20m tall but one in Tight Hollow, Kentucky measured 33 m tall with a 13 m spread. 
The trunk is usually straight with thin, smooth and grey-brown bark which may develop small platy patches.
Magnolia macrophylla has the largest simple leaf and single flower of any native tree in North America. The very large leaf is alternate, simple, with wavy edges and the base of the leaf is auricied like a human ear-lobes.
The twigs are stout, with a large leaf scar that circles the twig.

The flower buds are large (2.5cm) and are covered with silvery pubescence. It is during late November early December in New Zealand when the tree produces very fragrant, open, cup-shaped, ivory coloured flowers that average up to 25 to 30 cm across. The flowers are rose-purple coloured at the petal bases. Since the flowers are often located far off the ground they are not often seen close up. 
Flowers give way to spherical cone-like fruits (5 to7.6 cm long) which mature to a red colour in late summer, releasing individual red coated seeds suspended on slender threads. 

Photographed at Tupare Gardens New Plymouth. Early December.


Some of the trees older leaves are wind damaged.


Magnolia macrophylla large scented flower  (26 cm across)




The underside of Magnolia macrophylla large leaf