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Magnolia box
MFA# 2015.968.1-2
Magnolia guitar
MFA# 2006.1883
Magnolia flower by Heade: MFA# 47.1169


A large family of ornamental, evergreen trees of the genus Magnolia, such as Magnolia grandiflora, that is native to Central and North America. Magnolia trees are frequently used in cultivation for their evergreen leaves and their magnificent early spring blooms. The trees produce a heavy, durable wood (often sold as yellow pine) that is used for boxes, furniture, and millwork. Additionally, the flowers are considered edible.

Magnolia tree (Magnolia virginiana)

See also [Uemera Dye Archive (Mokuren)]

Synonyms and Related Terms

laurel; sweet bay; southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora); bull bay; Magnolien (Deut.); Magnolie (Dan.); Magnolia (Esp., Fr., It., Ned., Sven.); Magnólia (Port.)

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Medium tree growing to 25 m with pyramidal crown.
  • Bark = brown with flat plates or scales.
  • Leaves = oval (8-12 cm) and pinnately veined, waxy top surface.
  • Fruit = aggregate of follicles turning red when mature in fall.
  • Wood density = 35 pcf
  • Wide sapwood is creamy white to grayish; narrow heartwood is medium to dark brown
  • Grain is straight; texture is a uniform fine to medium
  • Susceptible to insects and decay

Additional Images

Working Properties

  • Easy to work with both hand and machine tools.
  • Turns, glues, stains, and finishes well.

Resources and Citations

  • Hardwood Manufacturers Institute, Memphis, Tenn.: air-dry weight = 35 pcf
  • Edward Reich, Carlton J. Siegler, Consumer Goods: How to Know and Use Them, American Book Company, New York City, 1937
  • Virginia Tech Dendrology website at (accessed Oct. 8, 2005)