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Umbrella Magnolia
Magnolia tripetala

There’s a similar tree in Virginia called Cucumber Magnolia, and they are very similar. The way they differ (and you can tell them apart) is that Cucumber Magnolia has distinctly alternate leaves, rather than the cluster of whorl-like leaves at the stem that Umbrella Magnolia has. There’s also a Fraiser Magnolia, but I think that these leaves are not the same as a Fraiser, and the flower on the photos here have longer and narrower petals.

All of that to say, there are a lot of native magnolias, and I think I landed correctly on Umbrella Magnolia for this one.

Supposedly the flowers of this tree have an “unsavory aroma” to them. Do I give them a sniff this spring? I’m not sure…

Alternate Names: Umbrella Tree
Size: 15-45' tall
Family: Magnoliaceae (Magnolia Family)
Habitat: Moist, fertile soils like hardwood forests, cove, and floodplain forests. More common in the mountains than the piedmont.
Identification: "Tree with large leaves, very large flowers, and a broad, open crown of spreading branches; often with sprouts at base. The leaves of this deciduous magnolia are clustered at the end of stems to resemble an umbrella. Individual leaves are 10-24 in. in length. The showy flowers are 6-8 in. in diameter and creamy-white in color. Their petals are thin and less symmetrical than those of other magnolias. The flowers are followed by cone-shaped, rosy-red fruits." From wildflower.org  Blooms April-May
All text and photos copyright © 2022 Middle Way Nature Reserve, unless noted.
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