The magnolia genus (Magnolia spp.) consists of 80 species of deciduous or evergreen trees and shrubs characterized by large, deeply fragrant blooms, which emerge in the spring or summer in shades of white, pink, magenta and yellow. Popular varieties include:
- Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)
- Chinese Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana)
- Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata)
- Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)
- Kobus Magnolia (Magnolia Kobus)
- Yulan Magnolia (Magnolia denudata)
- Jane Magnolia (Magnolia x ‘Jane’)
- Anise Magnolia (Magnolia salicifolia)
- Bigleaf Magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla)
- Loebner Magnolia (Magnolia xloebneri)
- Umbrella Magnolia (Magnolia tripetala)
- Fraser magnolia (Magnolia fraseri)
- Campbell’s magnolia (Magnolia campbellii)
- Yellow Bird Magnolia (Magnolia acuminata ‘Yellow Bird’)
- Black Tulip Magnolia
- Ashes Magnolia (Magnolia ashei)
- Lily Magnolia (Magnolia liliiflora)
- Korean mountain magnolia
- Dawson’s magnolia
- Globe magnolia
- Huangshan magnolia (Magnolia cylindrica)
- Sprenger’s magnolia (Magnolia sprengeri)
- Beaked magnolia
Southern Magnolia, is a large, broadleaf evergreen, medium-sized tree that is noted for its attractive dark green leaves and its large, extremely fragrant flowers. It is the only evergreen magnolia and typically grows to 60 to 80 feet tall with a pyramidal to rounded crown, a spread of 20 to 40 feet wide, and a trunk diameter of 3 feet. Southern magnolia is most frequently grown as a single specimen tree in the landscape. Its coarse-textured leaves provide an excellent background for shrubs, particularly needle evergreens.
The Chinese Magnolia is known by a few other common names including the tuliptree magnolia or saucer magnolia. The tree has beautiful dark pink-light pink blooms that emerge in early spring. As the petals open, they reveal a white interior that contributes even more to the spectacular bicolor flowering event. The goblet-shaped blooms appear before any leaves on naked branches in large masses. The flowers are relatively large and can be up to ten inches in size. These Magnolias are medium-sized deciduous trees, often multi-trunked and typically 15’-20’ feet in height. After bloom, green leaves prevail for the summer months, eventually turning golden-brown in the fall.
The star magnolia is a small deciduous shrub or small tree that typically grows with a rounded crown and is often grown as a large pyramidal multi-stemmed shrub. The defining characteristic of the star magnolia is its flowers, which blossom to reveal bright white tepals in a star-shaped pattern. These flowers bloom in the beginning of spring and can last until the middle of summer if properly cared for. The star magnolia tree itself can grow up to 30 feet tall and presents foliage and flowers on several individual trunks that split off from the main trunk a few feet from the ground. The star magnolia is deciduous and loses its leaves in the winter after creating colorful fall foliage. The wood of the star magnolia tree is softer and weaker than other trees of its size and is susceptible to damage, even from wind.
Sweetbay magnolia also referred to as Swamp magnolia (due to its ability to flourish in swampy soils or along riverbanks) is a broad-leaf evergreen or semi-evergreen tree native to the southeastern United States. Its emerald lance-shaped leaves are silver or white on the underside, and it boasts creamy white, lemon-scented flowers that appear at the end of spring or in early summer.Sweetbay magnolia produces 3- to 4-inch long cones studded with fleshy scarlet seeds, attractive to many songbird species and woodpeckers. Useful as a small, multi-trunked courtyard tree, specimen plant or addition to a mixed shrub border, the smooth gray bark of sweetbay magnolia is attractive in the winter.
Magnolia kobus, known as mokryeon, kobus magnolia, or kobushi magnolia is deciduous and pyramidal when young, maturing to a spreading, dense, conical or domed form that grows up to 49″ tall. It has large dark-green leaves that are obovate in shape and 3 to 8 inches long. Once well established, the tree produces perfumed white flowers up to 4 inches across in early spring before the leaves appear. The fruit is an aggregate (cluster) of dry fruits called follicles. Each one contains reddish-orange seeds. In autumn, the leaves change to an unremarkable yellow or yellowish-brown color.
Magnolia denudata, the lilytree or Yulan magnolia is a broad, spreading, deciduous tree with a relatively fast growth rate, eventually reaching 25 to 40 feet in height with an equal spread. The off-white, saucer-shaped, six-inch-diameter, fragrant blooms appear on the trees before the emergence of the seven-inch-long, dark green leaves. The blooms are followed by five-inch-long, brown fruits which ripen in early fall to reveal the bright red, inner seeds. Although there is no appreciable fall color change, the multi-stemmed, irregular form of Yulan Magnolia makes it quite striking in the winter garden after the leaves have fallen.
Jane Magnolia trees are a vigorous, hardy type of Magnolia growing to a mature height of between 10 to 15 feet, with a spread from 8 to 12 feet. It produces thick leaves and tulip-like, lightly fragrant pink and white flowers. Jane magnolia’s short stature makes it a suitable small tree for growing under power lines or other areas where space is limited. You can easily prune it when young into a more shrub-like habit, making it useful as a foundation or border shrub.
Magnolia salicifolia, also known as willow-leafed magnolia or anise magnolia is a small deciduous tree 7.5 m tall, with narrow lanceolate or willow-like leaves with whitened undersides. It features a spectacular six-sided white flowers tinged with pink that appear in early spring before the leaves unfurl. The appearance of the flowers provides a sightly garden view. In late summer, anise magnolia bears fruit that ripen into startling red seed pots that contrast with the dark green leaves.The foliage turns a bright golden-yellow in fall before falling.The stems give off a lemon scent when bruised. The pyramidal habit becomes irregular with age.
Bigleaf magnolia has huge leaves that are 12 to 36 inches long, and ivory-colored flowers that average 8 to 10 inches across. The tree’s coarse appearance makes it difficult to use in residential areas. It can be used as a specimen tree or shade tree in parks or other large areas. Bigleaf magnolia is a pyramidal tree that develops a spreading rounded crown with age, typically growing 30-40’ tall. Showy fragrant flowers are white with rose-purple at the petal bases. Although quite large, the flowers are often located far off the ground and are not always easy to see close up. Flowers give way to spherical cone-like fruits which mature to red in late summer, releasing individual red coated seeds suspended on slender threads at maturity.
Loebner Magnolia, a hybrid between Magnolia Kobus and Magnolia stellata, a group of cultivars of a small woody tree that blooms in early- to mid-spring. The blooms range in size from 4-6 inches and are whitish-pink. The buds of these magnolias are relatively pink and their white color appears as the blooms open. The buds also have small hairs around the outer protective covering that encases the bud. After flowering, this small deciduous tree puts out leaves for the summer, and eventually small cone-like red fruits appear at the end of the growing season. The trunks twist and tangle around each other, as do the branches. Small suckers can also appear at the base of the trunks each year.
Magnolia tripetala, commonly called umbrella magnolia or simply umbrella-tree can grow up to 30 feet, yet their mature height range is from 15-30 feet. The leaves on the umbrella trees are large, oblong, in an ovate shape with a base that resemble a “V- shape”. Each leaf can reach up to 24 inches in length and 10 inches wide. These leaves have an alternate arrangement yet appear in a cluster near the ends of the petiole, giving it it’s characteristic look like spokes of an umbrella.The flowers are an unpleasantly smelling, creamy white that appear as “bowl-shaped” and can reach up to 6-10 inches across.These flowers bloom in the spring shortly after the large leaves emerge. As it nears mid to late summer, the flower is followed by fruit that emerge as a reddish, 4-6 inches long cone-shaped aggregate fruit. Later in the fall, the fruit ripens and shortly after the leaves are dropped.
Magnolia fraseri, commonly known as Fraser magnolia, mountain magnolia, earleaf cucumbertree, or mountain-oread, is a small tree with very large showy white flowers and large coarse foliage that make this an attractive ornamental.The leaves are long, more than 12 inches, and in the fall, turn quickly from green, to yellow, then brown. These trees usually have more than one trunk and, like most other Magnolias, the bark of the Fraser Magnolia is somewhat smooth, but covered with warty lenticels. It is an important food source for wildlife and the fruit attract birds. Fraser magnolias are, in general, understory trees that are happy with shade and usually found growing in small openings in the forest. They are relatively fast growing trees with multiple limbs, however, and can become a canopy tree if they are close to a larger opening in the forest.
Campbell’s magnolia is a medium-sized to large deciduous tree growing to between 30-45 feet, tall, with smooth grey bark. It’s leaves are broad, fuzzy underneath and with an acute apex. The flowers are large and vary from white to dark pink. They appear very early, before the leaves, opening from late winter to early spring. After opening, the innermost tepals remain erect while the others spread widely. This arrangement may shelter the stamens and stigmas from rain, snow, and other hash environmental conditions common during their very early flowering time period.
Yellow Bird Magnolia
Yellow Bird Magnolia is a deciduous tree with a distinctive and refined pyramidal form. Its relatively coarse texture can be used to stand it apart from other landscape plants with finer foliage. It grow to be about 40 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 30 feet. Yellow Bird Magnolia is blanketed in stunning fragrant yellow cup-shaped flowers held atop the branches in mid spring before the leaves. It has dark green deciduous foliage. The large pointy leaves turn coppery-bronze in fall. The fruits are showy pink pods displayed in early fall.
Black Tulip Magnolia
Black Tulip Magnolia will grow to be about 20 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 10 feet. It is smothered in stunning fragrant burgundy cup-shaped flowers with red overtones held atop the branches in early spring before the leaves. It has dark green deciduous foliage. The pointy leaves turn coppery-bronze in fall. This magnolia tree just get bigger and better as the years go by so the annual display keeps on getting more spectacular.
Ashe’s Magnolia is a greatly underused, rare in cultivation, extremely ornamental small tree endemic to mixed hardwood forests and ravine slopes in a few counties. Ashes magnolia grows as a small tree with a loose, open branching habit up to a height of about 25 feet. The large, light green leaves have whitish undersides and emerge in mid spring prior to flowering. The leaves are similarly huge, growing 1 – 2 feet long and up to 1 foot across. These large, banana-like leaves offer interest and coarse texture to any landscape. Leaves turn yellowish and fall in autumn, usually without any dramatic color change. Pollinated flowers are followed by reddish, cylindrical, 3-inch fruits producing bright red fleshy seeds in early August.
Magnolia LiLiiflora is also commonly known as Lily Magnolia has a compact, rounded form and produces a massive display of lily-shaped pinkish-purple flowers with six or seven petals. The flowers are sometimes followed by cone-shaped purple or brown fruit, called follicles, as well as dark green, elliptical-shaped leaves.Lily Magnolia is one of the smaller species belonging to the Magnolia genus. So this shrub is perfect for small gardens that need an elegant focal point. A Magnolia LiLiiflora will also make a lovely addition to landscapes in city gardens or cottage gardens. It grows slowly, often taking between 10 and 15 years to reach full maturity (but looking beautiful along the way).
Magnolia sieboldii, or Siebold’s magnolia, also known as Korean mountain magnolia and Oyama magnolia is a spreading, deciduous shrub or small tree with oblong to broadly elliptic, dark green leaves turning golden-yellow in autumn, and, from late spring to late summer, fragrant, nodding, cup-shaped, white flowers with crimson stamens followed by ovoid, pink fruit splitting to reveal orange to red seeds.
Magnolia cylindrica also referred to as Huangshan magnolia is a deciduous large shrub or small tree that matures over time to 20-30′ tall and 8-18′ wide. As a tree, it typically grows with a vase-shape but rounds with age. Fragrant lily-like flowers bloom in spring before the leaves appear. Each flower has 9 large white tepals which are blotched with rose-pink at the base. Flowers are followed by cylindrical fruit which mature in fall to bright red as they split open to reveal red seeds. Elliptic to oblong dark green leaves are pubescent underneath. Leaves emerge with bronze tints in spring. Yellow fall color. Smooth gray bark.
Magnolia sprengeri also referred to as Sprenger’s magnolia is a deciduous small tree/ large shrub. Its dark green leaves are obovate, up to 15cm long and 10cm broad, with a 3cm petiole. The exfoliating bark is a pale grayish brown to blackish brown colour. The young twigs are pale yellowish brown in colour. The rosy red slightly fragrant flowers appear before the leaves, are erect, cup shaped, up to 15cm wide, with up to 14 tepals. The fruit is a cylindrical aggregate of follicles which is up to 18cm long.