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Gordonia lasianthus 'Variegata': 'Variegata' Loblolly-Bay1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson 2

Introduction

A native American, usually single-trunked, evergreen tree, this cultivar of Loblolly-Bay reaches a height of 35 to 60 feet with a columnar or pyramidal, very open growth habit. The two to seven-inch-long, glossy, dark green variegated leaves are a light grey color on the underside, giving a two-toned effect in the wind. Although evergreen, several individual leaves at a time will turn a brilliant scarlet color in the fall adding to its attractiveness. The white, two to three-inch-wide, five-petalled, cup-shaped flowers open from late spring through summer and are very attractive but sparsely produced throughout the canopy.

Figure 1. Middle-aged Gordonia lasianthus 'Variegata': 'Variegata' Loblolly-Bay
Figure 1.  Middle-aged Gordonia lasianthus 'Variegata': 'Variegata' Loblolly-Bay

General Information

Scientific name: Gordonia lasianthus
Pronunciation: gor-DOE-nee-uh lay-zee-ANTH-us
Common name(s): 'Variegata' Loblolly-Bay, `Variegata' Sweet-Bay
Family: Theaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 7A through 9B (Fig. 2)
Origin: native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: specimen; espalier; reclamation
Availability: not native to North America

Figure 2. Range
Figure 2.  Range

Description

Height: 35 to 60 feet
Spread: 10 to 15 feet
Crown uniformity: symmetrical
Crown shape: columnar
Crown density: open
Growth rate: moderate
Texture: medium

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: alternate (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: serrulate
Leaf shape: oblong, oblanceolate
Leaf venation: pinnate, reticulate, brachidodrome
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen, broadleaf evergreen
Leaf blade length: 4 to 8 inches
Leaf color: variegated
Fall color: red
Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. Foliage
Figure 3.  Foliage

Flower

Flower color: white/cream/gray
Flower characteristics: very showy

Fruit

Fruit shape: round
Fruit length: less than .5 inch
Fruit covering: fleshy
Fruit color: brown, green
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; not showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches don't droop; not showy; typically one trunk; thorns
Pruning requirement: little required
Breakage: resistant
Current year twig color: brown
Current year twig thickness: medium
Wood specific gravity: unknown

Culture

Light requirement: full sun, partial sun or partial shade, shade tolerant
Soil tolerances: loam; clay; acidic; extended flooding
Drought tolerance: moderate
Aerosol salt tolerance: none

Other

Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: no
Outstanding tree: yes
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: unknown
Pest resistance: free of serious pests and diseases

Use and Management

Loblolly-Bay makes an attractive specimen planting and its light, airy growth habit lends itself well to smaller, partially enclosed locations. In moist soils, Loblolly-Bay naturalizes well and is well-suited to the low-maintenance landscape. Due to the shape of the crown, it makes a suitable tree in urban areas with restricted, narrow overhead space, and should do well as a street tree, although it has not been extensively used yet.

Preferring partial shade and moist soil, Loblolly-Bay can tolerate full sun with sufficient moisture. Loblolly-Bay has a shallow root system and will die if not watered during periods of drought. It is found in the wild most often growing in wet sites in the shade of maples, cypress and pines. It is well-suited for planting in boggy and other poorly drained soils. Loblolly-Bay is not salt-tolerant. Not for dry climates.

Propagation is by cuttings.

Pests

Pest problems are borers in weakened trees, aphids, and caterpillars.

Diseases

No diseases are of major concern.

Footnotes

1. This document is ENH442, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #ENH442

Date: 9/17/2014

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      Contacts

      • Michael Andreu