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Magnolia virginiana, most commonly known as Sweetbay magnolia, or merely Sweetbay (also Swampbay, Swamp magnolia, Whitebay or Beaver tree), is a member of the magnolia family, Magnoliaceae. It was the first magnolia to be scientifically described, and is the type species of the genus Magnolia; as Magnolia is also the type genus of all flowering plants, this species can be seen to typify all flowering plants.

Sweetbay magnolia is a deciduous or evergreen tree to 30 m tall, native to the southeastern United Statesmarker. Whether it is deciduous or evergreen depends on climate; it is evergreen in areas with milder winters in the south of its range, and is semievergreen or deciduous further north. The leaves are alternate, simple (not lobed or pinnate), with entire margins, and 6 to 12 cm long, 3 to 5 cm wide. The flowers are creamy white, 8 to 14 cm diameter, with 6 to 15 tepals. The flowers carry a very strong vanilla scent that can be noticed several hundred yards away. The fruit is a fused aggregate of follicles, 3 to 5 cm long, pinkish-red when mature, with the follicles splitting open to release the 1 cm long seeds. The seeds are black but covered by a thinly fleshy red coat, which is attractive to some fruit-eating birds; these swallow the seeds, digest the red coating, and disperse the seeds in their droppings. The bark is smooth and gray, with the inner bark mildly scented, the scent reminiscent of the bay laurel spice.

Sweetbay Magnolias are often used in horticultural applications to give an architectural feel to landscape designs. They are handsome plant that is not often damaged by ice storms[56423].

It is an attractive tree for parks and large gardens, grown for its large, conspicuous, and scented flowers, for its clean, attractive foliage, and for its fast growth.

The English botanist and missionary John Banister collected Magnolia virginiana in 1678 and brought it to England, where it was the first magnolia to be cultivated, although was soon overshadowed by M grandiflora.

In horticulture, the sweetbay magnolia has been hybridized with a number of species within subgenus Magnolia. These species include M. globosa, M. grandiflora, M. insignis, M. macrophylla, M. obovata, M. sieboldii and M. tripetala. Some of these hybrids have been given cultivar names and registered by the Magnolia Society.

Gallery

Image:Sweetbay Magnolia Magnolia virginiana Leaves 2000px.jpg|LeavesImage:Sweetbay Magnolia Magnolia virginiana Leaf 2000px.jpg|Leaf closeupImage:Sweetbay Magnolia Magnolia virginiana Trunk Base 3000px.jpg|Base of the tree's trunkImage:Sweetbay Magnolia Magnolia virginiana Bark 3000px.jpg|Closeup of the tree's barkImage:Sweetbay Magnolia Magnolia virginiana Berries 1800px.jpg|Young berry clusterImage:Sweetbay Magnolia Magnolia virginiana Dried Berry Cluster 2000px.jpg|Dried berry cluster

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