Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Fraser Magnolia - Magnolia fraseri   Walter
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Section 4 » Order Magnoliales » Family Magnoliaceae
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AuthorWalter
DistributionThroughout the mountains (known from all counties), and along the upper Piedmont foothills, east to Stokes County. Essentially a montane species, however.

This is a Southern Appalachian endemic, ranging north to eastern WV and western VA, and south only to northern GA; it is disjunct to northeastern AL. It is essentially absent from the Cumberland Mountains and Plateau in TN.
AbundanceCommon and widespread in the mountains, the most frequently seen magnolia in that province. Present in several Piedmont foothill ranges, such as the Sauratowns in Stokes County.
HabitatThis species occurs over a broad range in montane forested habitats. It occurs in both Acidic Cove Forests and Rich Cove Forests, but it is also found in more mesic hardwood and mixed forests, as well. It has a fairly broad altitudinal range in the mountains.
PhenologyBlooms in April and May, and fruits in July and August.
IdentificationThis is a familiar montane deciduous tree, of small to medium stature, growing to 40-50 feet tall. It is easily identified (at least where Bigleaf Magnolia [M. macrophylla] is absent) by the auricled (ear-lobed) bases to the leaves. The leaves are otherwise large, being about 7-9 inches long and obovate (wider above the middle), with entire margins. The flowers are very large, being white to cream in color, with the many petals about 4 inches long, giving the spread flower almost 8 inches across. At times this species could be misidentified as an Umbrella Magnolia (M. tripetala) if the leaf bases cannot be seen; the leaves of both magnolias tend to occur in whorls at the ends of branches and the leaf bases can at times be hard to see if they are well above the ground. Normally, that species has even longer leaves, to a foot or more. Bigleaf Magnolia grows mainly in Gaston County, and a few other spots in the central and eastern Piedmont, and thus the range does not overlap in NC with Fraser Magnolia.
Taxonomic CommentsA few recent references have included varieties for the species, but Weakley (2018) does not, nor does NatureServe.

Other Common Name(s)Mountain Magnolia, Fraser’s Magnolia, Earleaf Umbrella-tree, Eared Magnolia
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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