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Magnolia virginiana 'Jim Wilson' MOONGLOW Plant of Merit

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Kemper Code:  C906

Common Name: sweet bay magnolia
Zone: 5 to 10
Plant Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Magnoliaceae
Missouri Native: No
Native Range: None
Height: 15 to 35 feet
Spread: 10 to 20 feet
Bloom Time: May - June  
Bloom Color: Creamy white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low

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Plant Culture and Characteristics

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  Uses:       Wildlife:   Flowers:   Leaves:   Fruit:
Hedge Suitable as annual Attracts birds Has showy flowers Leaves colorful Has showy fruit
Shade tree Culinary herb Attracts Has fragrant flowers Leaves fragrant Fruit edible
Street tree Vegetable   hummingbirds Flowers not showy Good fall color   Other:
Flowering tree Water garden plant Attracts Good cut flower Evergreen Winter interest
Gr. cover (<1') Will naturalize   butterflies Good dried flower     Thorns or spines

General Culture:

Easily grown in acidic, medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist, rich, organic soils, but, unlike most other magnolias, tolerates wet, boggy soils. Also does quite well in the heavy clay soils of Missouri.

Noteworthy Characteristics:

Sweet bay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) is a semi-evergreen tree that is native to the southeastern United States north along the Atlantic coast to New York. MOONGLOW (‘Jim Wilson’) is a patented cultivar that is distinguished from the species by (1) more vigorous upright growth, (2) better cold hardiness with semi-evergreen foliage in the northern part of its range, and (3) slightly larger flowers. This is a medium-sized tree with an oval to vase-shaped form. It typically grows over time to 35’ tall with a spread of 18’. Cup-shaped, sweetly fragrant (lemony), 9-12 petaled, creamy white, waxy flowers (2-3” diameter) appear in mid-spring (May-June) for about one month and sometimes continue sporadically in the summer. Semi-evergreen elliptic to lanceolate leaves are glossy dark green above and silvery-green below. Cone-like fruits with bright red seeds mature in fall and can be showy. U.S. Plant Patent PP12,065 was issued on August 28, 2001.


No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to chlorosis in alkaline soils.


Excellent specimen tree residential landscapes. Often planted in parks. Will grow in wet soils such as those found in low spots or near ponds/streams.

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