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Featured Plant Of The Month

There is always something in bloom at the Arboretum! Use our Plants Library to plan a photo shoot or to choose one of the trails to walk. Learn more about the plants at the Arboretum by visiting our Previously Featured Plants list and our Special Seasonal Featured Plants page.


Andrew Jackson Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

Andrew Jackson Magnolia Southern Magnolia is an evergreen tree, native to the southeastern Atlantic coastal plain from southern North Carolina to central Florida and west along the Gulf Coast to Texas. It is planted extensively throughout the Southeast and has escaped into surrounding urban woodlands. Its large (5-8 in. long), elliptic leaves are shiny dark green above with a velvet rusty surface underneath. When shed in the spring and early summer, the dry, leathery leaves decay very slowly and have been found to be alleopathic (releasing chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plants). The large, fragrant, creamy white flowers (up to 12 in. diameter), borne at the tips of branches, have many pistils and stamens in a central column, surrounded by undifferentiated sepals and petals (tepals). The flowers are pollinated by beetles. In late summer the erect pinkish fruits mature and, over the winter and the following spring, shed their scarlet seeds. Southern Magnolia typically grows to heights of 50-80 ft with a columnar to rounded shape. The tallest trees reported are over 100 ft high. Several cultivars of Southern Magnolia are planted near the Arboretum Visitors Center.

A recently donated Southern Magnolia has been planted in the lawn next to the Arboretum Visitors Center. This special tree originated from a cutting of a Southern Magnolia growing at the Hermitage near Nashville. President Andrew Jackson planted a similar cutting from the Hermitage Magnolia at the White House in honor of his wife nearly 200 years ago. Known as the Andrew Jackson Magnolia, it was recently cut down, but it still lives on with trees such as ours that were developed from similar cuttings.

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University of Tennessee - Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
901 South Illinois Avenue, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37830 · Telephone: 865-483-3571 · Email: UTforest@utk.edu