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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Magnolia stellata - Star Magnolia

The Star magnolia is a great little tree,  (okay medium shrub) for the early spring landscape. Blooming very early spring, late winter around here, they are covered with almost pure white flowers with small strap like petals. Rarely growing more that 15' they are perfect for almost any garden. Lots of cultivars around, some with lots of petals, some pure white, some pink. In cold areas it might bloom too early and the flowers can be damaged by the cold, or they can be ruined by heavy rains. If cool weather persists during blooming they can put on a show for weeks. Trees generally have an upright spreading multi-stemmed habit usually branching to the ground but often limbed up to show the trunk.

Leaves are alternate, simple, obovate to oblong, 4" long by about 1.5" wide, pale green, slightly hairy on the lower surface.

Flower buds large, at the ends of the branches, vegetative buds in axils more round but smaller.

Flowers are fragrant, consisting of 9-12 strap shaped petals (tepals) about 2-3" long and 1/2" wide, wider at the tips. This image is the cultivar 'Rosea'. Opening before the foliage appears.

Fruit is an aggregation of small follicles each releasing a seed with an orangish red seed.

Here are a few more shots of them in landscapes.

The cultivar 'Rosea'  in Seascape area.

Other cultivars exist. 'Royal Star' has double white flowers. 'Centennial' has an upright narrow habit.

There is some confusion about the name of this species. It is often considered a botanical variety of M. kobus but the current thought is they are distinct species. Which makes it easier to understand how we might have M. x loebneri which is considered a hybrid between M. kobus and stellata.

Misidentification: Hard to say, unless you run into some of the cultivars of M. x loebneri which you might which have flowers slightly larger as well larger leaves.

Santa Cruz
132 Pacheco Ave is a beautiful white one,
710 Melrose has 2 spectacular Rosea cultivars

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