Common Name(s): Sweetbay, Swamp Magnolia
Scientific Name: Magnolia virginiana
Distribution: Southeastern United States
Tree Size: 50-80 ft (15-24 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 34 lbs/ft3 (545 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .45, .54
Janka Hardness: 810 lbf (3,600 N)*
*Estimated hardness based on specific gravity
Modulus of Rupture: 10,900 lbf/in2 (75.2 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,640,000 lbf/in2 (11.31 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 5,680 lbf/in2 (39.2 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 4.7%, Tangential: 8.3%, Volumetric: 12.9%, T/R Ratio: 1.8
Color/Appearance: Very wide sapwood is a creamy white to grayish color. Comparatively narrow heartwood color ranges from a medium to dark brown, sometimes with green, purple or black streaks.
Grain/Texture: Grain is straight, with a medium uniform texture. Moderate natural luster.
Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; small to medium pores in no specific arrangement, numerous; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; growth rings distinct; narrow rays visible without lens, normal spacing; parenchyma marginal.
Rot Resistance: Rated as non-durable to perishable regarding decay resistance, and also susceptible to insect attack.
Workability: Generally easy to work with both hand and machine tools. Turns, glues, stains, and finishes well.
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, species in the Magnolia genus have been reported to cause asthma-like symptoms and runny nose. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.
Pricing/Availability: Readily available within its natural range, though difficult to find elsewhere. Prices should be low for a domestic hardwood.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Common Uses: Veneer, plywood, interior trim, upholstered furniture frames, and general utility wood.
Comments: So named for its sweetly-fragrant, cup-shaped, white flowers. Because of its attractive flowers and foliage, it’s also grown as an ornamental tree. Sweetbay is sometimes called swamp magnoila, as it occurs near swamps and lowland habitats.
When you can find it with curls it’s some really amazing figure. It’s a species that is definitely under appreciated.