Little Gem Magnolia
Common Name: Little Gem Magnolia
Scientific Name: Magnolia grandiflora var. ‘Little Gem’
Species Range: Native to the southeast region of the United States, the Little Gem Magnolia is commonly grown from North Carolina to Florida and east of Texas. It prefers sunny areas with sandy, well- drained soils.
Growth Characteristics: The Little Gem Magnolia grows up to 15’-20’ with a spread of 7’-10’. It grows less than 12” annually, but blooms in as quickly as 2-3 years with frequent, fragrant blossoms in its initial years. The little gem likes lots of sun and partial shade. Also having moderate drought and flooding tolerance, this small tree likes acidic, moist, peaty, and well-drained soils. Its green twigs are thick, and the bark is thin. Generally, 4”-8” inches in length, the leaves are alternate, evergreen, and elliptical in shape. The top of the leaf can be seen in various glossy shades of green with a golden-brown underneath. Flowers are white and average 4” long, blooming from mid-spring to summer. Its fruits can be up to 5” and conical in shape with singular, red-coated seeds.
Ecosystem Service Value: Birds are often attracted to the fruit of this magnolia tree. Its fallen flowers, fruit, and leaves produce natural litter.
Uses, Other Details: Highly tolerant of pruning and ideal for a low-maintenance landscape, this tree is typically planted for ornamental purposes. Its dense foliage makes it a frequent pick to be used as a screen or hedge.
Threats: Magnolia and overwintering scales, tulip-poplar weevil (sassafras weevil), and canker diseases can invade twigs, leaves, and branches. Most of the threats to the Little Gem Magnolia do not affect its long-term health. This tree is also susceptible to girdling roots.
Identification Tips and Tricks: The Little Gem strongly resembles a southern magnolia but is much smaller. The strong bronze color of the undersides of the leaves are more pronounced in the Little Gem.
Species profile by Audrey Nelson
Gilman, E. F., & Watson, D. G. (1994, October). Magnolia grandiflora‘Little GEM’. Retrieved March 1, 2021, from http://hort.ufl.edu/database/documents/pdf/tree_fact_sheets/maggrae.pdf
Little gem magnolia magnolia grandiflora 'little gem'. (n.d.). Retrieved March 01, 2021, from https://www.arborday.org/trees/treeguide/TreeDetail.cfm?ItemID=2452