Commercial magnolia consists of three species: southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), sweetbay (M. virginiana), and cucumbertree (M. acuminata). Other names for southern magnolia are evergreen magnolia, big laurel, bull bay, and laurel bay. Sweetbay is sometimes called swamp magnolia. The lumber produced by all three species is simply called magnolia. The natural range of sweetbay extends along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts from Long Island to Texas, and that of southern magnolia extends from North Carolina to Texas. Cucumbertree grows from the Appalachians to the Ozarks northward to Ohio. Louisiana leads in the production of magnolia lumber.
Sapwood of southern magnolia is yellowish white, and heartwood is light to dark brown with a tinge of yellow or green. The wood, which has close, uniform texture and is generally straight grained, closely resembles yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera). It is moderately heavy, moderately low in shrinkage, moderately low in bending and compressive strength, moderately hard and stiff, and moderately high in shock resistance. Sweetbay is much like southern magnolia. The wood of cucumbertree is similar to that of yellowpoplar (L. tulipifera); cucumbertree that grows in the yellowpoplar range is not separated from that species on the market.
Magnolia lumber is used principally in the manufacture of furniture, boxes, pallets, venetian blinds, sashes, doors, veneer, and millwork.
*Much of the base wood information presented here is made available by the USDA FPL FS. If you are interested in a much more technical description of wood properties, I encourage you to visit the source.