This magnificent southern magnolia ‘Bracken’s Brown Beauty’ (Magnolia grandiflora ‘Brackens Brown Beauty’) is a cultivar of the Southern magnolia. It typically grows to 30 feet with a dense, narrow, pyramidal-oval crown, and produces flowers and leaves that are approximately half the size of those on species’ plants. Leathery evergreen leaves are glossy dark green above and rusty-brown beneath, lending a bi-color appearance to the foliage. Fragrant, cup-shaped, white flowers appear in late spring, with sparse continued flowering throughout the summer. Flowers give way to spherical cone-like fruiting clusters which mature in late summer, releasing individual rose-red coated seeds suspended on slender threads. M. grandiflora shares its leathery leaves and chambered pith with Sweetbay Magnolia (M. virginiana). Its hard wood has been used to make furniture but the tree is best know for its majestic garden beauty. The flower of his tree is the State Flower of Louisiana and Mississippi. The Sweetbay Magnolia differs from M. grandiflora in that its leaves are blue-white beneath.
Common name: Southern Magnolia, Evergreen Magnolia, Bull-bay
Scientific Name (family and order): Magnolia grandiflora L. ‘ Bracken Brown Beauty’ (Magnoliaceae, Magnoliales)
Species Origin: Southeastern United States.
New Jersey Status: USDA Unreported
Habit: 60 – 80’ tall x 30’ wide tree; bole 2 – 3’ diameter.
Habitat: Zones 7 – 9; riverbanks and moist places on coastal plains.
Trunk/Stem: Bark gray cracking into small plates. Tall straight strong trunk; dense broadly conical shape; open grown trees have short trunk and lower branches that droop low to the ground. Twigs and branches have citrus odor when broken.
Leaves: Evergreen, Simple, Alternate. Elliptical to ovate or lanceolat; 10” long x 4” across, leaf rigid, leathery, glossy dark green and smooth above; below it is often (but not always) covered with rust colored hairs. Blade tip rounded or blunt. Blade margind entire and slightly infolded.
Flowers: Perfect. Cup shaped, 12” across creamy white very fragrant (scent of citronella) with 9 – 12 thick tepals borne singly at the ends of the shoots in early summer.
Fruits and seeds: Fruit an egg-shaped cone-like, red-brown cluster of follicles to 4” long. Each follicle has a long point at its tip which sheds red-coated, kidney-shaped seeds.