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Other Names for Magnolia Trees

magnolia image by corinne matusiak from

Magnolia is the both the genus and common name for many of the plants in the Magnoliaceae family. The trees were given the name "magnolia" in honor of French botanist Pierre Magnolia. Most of the trees in this family are referred to as magnolias. However, a few magnolias have aliases in various parts of the world.

Bull Bay

Bull Bay is one of the most popular magnolias, Magnolia grandiflora. It also is known as the Southern magnolia, sweet magnolia and laurel magnolia. It is famous for the large white flowers that it produces during the summer. This United States native is hardy in USDA zones 7 through 10a. It grows about 80 feet tall with a 40-foot spread. It is tolerant of a variety of soils and prefers a spot that is partially shaded, but it can grow in full sun.

Cucumber Tree

Cucumber tree is the common name for Magnolia acuminata. It is named so because its immature fruit are shaped like cucumbers. It also is referred to as the cucumber magnolia. This magnolia tree is native the United States and hardy in USDA zones 3b through 8. It can reach heights of 80 feet with a 60-foot spread. It can grow in full sun or partial shade, and prefers a well-draining, slightly acidic soil.

Umbrella Tree

The umbrella tree is the common name for Magnolia tripetala. It also is known as the umbrella magnolia and elkwood. The "umbrella" comes from its large leaves that are clustered at the ends of the branches and resemble umbrellas. This magnolia is native to the southeastern and south central United States, and is hardy in USDA zones 5 through 8. It grows about 30 to 40 feet tall. It prefers a site that is in full sun with a well-draining but moist soil.

Sweetbay or Swampbay

The sweetbay or swampbay are names that refer to Magnolia virginiana. As its name suggests, this magnolia tolerates areas prone to occasional flooding and a wide variety of soil types. It grows in part-shade or full sun. It is native the United States and hardy in USDA zones 5 through 10a.

Tulip Tree

The tulip tree also is called the yellow poplar or tulip poplar. It is the common name for Liriodendron tulipifera. The tulip tree gets its name because of its 3-inch-long flowers that are shaped like tulips. It grows about 80 to 100 feet tall with a 30- to 50-foot spread. It is native the United States and hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9a. It grows best in full sun in a deep, moist and fertile soil.

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