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House with native plants and animalsGoing Native: Urban Landscaping for Wildlife with Native Plants
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Sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana)

Sweetbay is a semi-evergreen to evergreen tree which may grow to a height of 60 feet. The tree has alternate leaves with a smooth margin and silvery white underside. The bark is reddish brown to gray and is often mottled. In late spring, 2- to 3-inch creamy white flowers mature. The tree produces a cone-like aggregate of follicles containing a scarlet red seed that reaches maturity in the fall.


Provides winter and extreme weather cover. Host plant for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. Foliage and twigs are eaten by white-tailed deer in winter, and seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals.

Plant Type Tree >30 feet
Leaf Type Evergreen
Deer Resistance Moderate
Regions Piedmont, Coastal Plain
Light Full Sun, Partial Sun/Shade
Soil Wet, Moist
Bloom Times Spring, Summer
Seed Times Fall
Wildlife Value Winter Cover, Seed or Nut, Butterfly Larvae Host
NC Forest ServiceNC Cooperative Extension