orange pollen is beginning to ripen on the stamens at the base of
the flower, as the prominent central pistils also mature. The tip
of each pistil will be sticky when it's ripe, and pollen will
adhere there. The fruit will be a many seeded, elongated cluster
that gives some magnolias the name "cucumber tree."
Magnolia is among the oldest of the flowering plants
and its flower form has changed so little in 100 million years that
fossils of that age are immediately recognizable to modern
This tree is named sweetbay for the scented flowers (a fragrance
which varies with individual trees and ranges from barely
noticeable to mildly offensive to sweet lemon and heavy gardenia)
and its leaves which are like bay tree leaves (Laurus
nobilis) in being narrower than many magnolias.
The flowers bloom over a very long time, often from May to
August. Not such a spectacular show as other magnolias since there
are a few flowers all the time rather than many all at once.
Also called swamp bay- or swamp magnolia for its occurrence in
boggy acid areas in its native range along the U.S. eastern plain
and Gulf coast (SE Massachusetts through Florida to east Texas).
Hardy to zone 5. More or less evergreen in the warmer part of its
range, and taller there; to 50', compared to 20' in the