No, it’s not native in Sewanee, but it’s planted abundantly on campus and around residences and it has several native relatives here. These relatives are all deciduous magnolias — unlike Southern magnolia, they lose their leaves in the winter. They include bigleaf, umbrella, and cucumber magnolias, and our state tree Yellow-poplar. All of the magnolias have large flowers with creamy-white petals and produce a heady perfume. Yellow-poplar flowers, a little smaller, have a beauty of their own. All are from an ancient lineage, and their flower structure, described as “ancestral,” appeals to a variety of pollinators, especially beetles.
Southern Magnolia blooming now