Ajuntament de Barcelona

Magnolia grandiflora

Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer Garden

    Catalan name: 
    Spanish name: 
    English name: 
    Bull bay
    Species characteristics
    Southern United States
    Watercourse and swamp banks

    Perennial tree 15-20 m tall, although it can reach 25 m, with short trunk and dense dark crown, 5-8 m in diameter. The bark is smooth and dark brownish grey.

    The leaves, 12-20 cm long and 7-10 cm wide, are elliptical or oblong ovate, with acute apex, rounded or wedge-shaped base and slightly undulate margins. They are leathery and have a prominent central nerve. The upper side is bright dark green and the lower side have reddish tomentum (a kind of down). The leaves are alternate and appear into terminal groups.

    The flowers are very big (up to 20 cm in diameter) and fragrant, appear isolated and erect over tomentose pedicels. They are compound of 6-10 white petals, which are narrowed at the base, and 3 sepals with petal appearance.

    The fruits, 10 cm long, are actually a group of follicles that are grouped into a woody structure. They are oval pine cone-shaped and are covered by a light pubescence (which is light green when young and becomes light brown when ripe). The seeds are flattened and red, 1-1.3 cm long.

    Flowering time: 
    Fruiting time: 
    Uses and properties: 

    Bull Bay bark has medicine properties.

    It's one of the most appreciated trees in gardening because of its elegance and its flashy flowers.

    History and curiosities: 

    The scientific name, Magnolia grandiflora, consists of the genus name Magnolia, in honour of Pierre Magnol (1638-1715), botanist and botany professor in Montpellier, and the Latin term grandiflora, "of big fowers", formed by grandis, "big", and flor, "flower".

    The first identified species of this genus was the sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana), found by missionaries in North America in the 1680s; by the 18th c. XVIII it was found the bull bay (Magnolia grandiflora),which in 1726 was brought to England by the botanical collector Mark Catesby.

    Both the bull bay and its flower, the magnolia, are symbolically very binded to Southern United States: the bull by is the state tree of Mississippi and the magnolia was, in the American Civil War (1861-1865), the Confederate States Army's emblem and nowadays it is the national flower of Louisiana and Mississippi.

    In Barcelona, it can be found at urban green spaces and historical gardens, as well at streets, as Gran de Gràcia street.

    For further information: 

    LÓPEZ GONZÁLEZ, Ginés A. Los árboles y arbustos de la Península Ibérica e Islas Baleares. (2 vol.) Madrid: Mundi-Prensa, 2001

    THE ROYAL HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY. Enciclopedia de plantas y flores. Barcelona: Grijalbo, 1996