The star magnolia is a very small tree, and in fact appears most often as a shrub. This tree is noted for its rounded, 12-18 petaled, white flowers. These star-shaped flowers appear in early spring before any leaves emerge and will usually completely cover the tree. The tree’s leaves are dark green and turn a bronze-yellow in the fall. This tree attracts insect pollinators.
Family: Magnoliaceae (Magnolia)
Characteristics: In March to April, the 12-18 petaled, white, and fragrant flowers begin to cover the tree, appearing before the leaves. The 2-4 inch long leaves are dark green and turn a bronze-yellow in the fall. When young, this tree has smooth and shiny chestnut-brown bark. With age, bark changes to a silvery-gray. The star magnolia most often appears as a shrub and is dense with an oval to rounded shape and spreading branches. It grows 15-20 feet high and 10-15 feet wide.
Foliage: Deciduous (leaves lost seasonally)
Geographic Origin: Japan (non-native)
Cultivation Notes: Requires medium maintenance. Does best in full sun to part shade, though it flowers best when in full sun. Prefers moist and well-drained soils. It is recommended to plant this tree in a sheltered location, in order to protect the early blooming flowers. This tree is intolerant to urban pollution and soil-extremes.
Number on Campus: 3
Sources: Dirr, Morton Arboretum, Missouri Botanical Garden