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Magnolia stellata - Star Magnolia

The flowers of Magnolia stellata are always a welcome sight as they burst open on bare branches, heralding the start of spring.

A native of Japan, is still grows there in the wild alongside streams, at elevations up to 600m. It is a slow growing deciduous shrub eventually reaching up to 4m in height and width. The growth is ovate and upright when young spreading with age to form a beautiful rounded shrub or small tree.

Early in the spring before the leaves appear, the grey silky buds open and allow the large white, starry flowers to unfurl. Made up of over a dozen tepals, they can be up to 4 inches across and with a delicate, subtle fragrance. Depending on the air temparature, they can sometimes have a slight blush of pink to them. The flowers can be tender to hard frosts and so it is best to position the plants somewhere with shade early in the morning and sun later in the day.

When the foliage appears, it has a bronzy tinge, maturing to a dark green oblong leaf, smaller than many other species of Magnolia. In Autumn, it has a red-green knobbly fruit which splits to reveal orange seeds inside. It is not uncommon for the fruit to drop before it develops fully.

Magnolia stellata was introduced to North America in the 1860’s and in the UK about a decade later. It is believed to have been brought here by Charles Maries for Veitch Nurseries.

Closely related to Magnolia kobus, it was previously considered to be a variety of this but was later confirmed to be its own species. Magnolia loebneri was bred by using Magnolia stellata and Magnolia kobus as the parent plants.

FACT: Magnolia stellata was bred with Magnolia kobus to produce Magnolia x loebneri.

Plant Profile

Name: Magnolia stellata

Common Name: Star Magnolia

Family: Magnoliaceae

Height: up to 4m at maturity

Demands: Prefers an acidic soil but is tolerant of lime

Foliage: Oblong, dark green leaves

Flower: Large white star shaped flowers in early spring

Bark: Smooth and chestnut coloured in young shoots maturing to a silvery grey.

Fruit: Reddish knobby fruits hold orange seeds inside.

Magnolia stellata info sheet

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