Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Southern Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Magnolia tripetala (L.) L.
- Family: Magnolia (Magnoliaceae)
- Flowering: April-May
- Field Marks: This species differs from all other magnolias by its deciduous leaves that are
crowded at the ends of the branches, its leaves that taper to the base, white flowers, and
pointed, black winter buds.
- Habitat: Wooded slopes, rich woods, ravines, stream banks, edges of swamps.
- Habit: Tree up to 40 feet tall; trunk diameter up to 2 feet; crown wide-spreading.
- Bark: Light gray, smooth.
- Twigs: Green to reddish at first, becoming brown or gray, with many tiny pale lenticels.
- Leaves: Alternate but crowded at the tips of the branches so as to appear whorled, simple,
deciduous, obovate to lanceolate, pointed at the tip, tapering to the base, without teeth, smooth
at maturity, up to 20 inches long, up to 10 inches wide; leaf stalks stout, up to 1 1/2 inches long.
- Flowers: Solitary, up to 10 inches across, with a very disagreeable odor up close; flower stalks
stout, up to 2 1/2 inches long.
- Sepals: 3, light green, free from each other, up to 6 inches long, turned downward.
- Petals: 6 or 9, white, free from each other, leathery, ovate, up to 5 inches long.
- Stamens: Numerous.
- Pistils: Several, free from each other, with superior ovaries.
- Fruits: Many follicles crowded together into a cone, rose-colored, up to 4 inches long; seeds
fleshy, up to 1/2 inch long.
- Notes: This species is grown as an ornamental.
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