Southern magnolia is a fast-growing, medium-sized, native evergreen tree that grows 60 to 90 feet (18-27 m) tall. The large, white flowers are perfect and fragrant. The seeds are drupelike with a soft, fleshy outer seed coat and an inner stony portion. Southern magnolia develops a deep taproot. As trees grow the root structure changes. Trees of sapling stage and beyond have a rather extensive root system. Older trees develop a fluted base with the ridges corresponding to the attachment of major lateral roots.
The Little Gem Magnolia is a slow-growing hybrid that is sometimes called a "dwarf". It will get tall, but not nearly as tall as the M. grandiflora, and it grows very slowly. It may grow to be 8 - 10' wide. It has blooms on it when it is very young, and in container. The leaves are smaller and some have more "golden rust" color on the underside. These magnolias are prized for small lawns, and their popularity is growing.