Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Magnolia Stellata

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch
Magnolia stellata flower (11/03/2012, Kew, London)

Magnolia stellata flower (11/03/2012, Kew, London)

Position: Full sun to dappled shade in a sheltered position

Flowering period: Early spring

Soil: Moist, well drained 

Eventual Height: 6m

Eventual Spread: 5m

Hardiness: 4a – 9b

Family: Magnoliaceae

Magnolia stellata is a slow growing deciduous, large shrub or small tree with a rounded habit. Its oblong leaves are narrowly obovate, and up to 10cm long and 4cm broad. These emerge bronze/ green turning to mid green and become yellow in autumn before they drop. The main trunk of this plant has a smooth, silvery gray bark. Lightly scented white to rich pink flowers (this may vary from year to year) emerge from silky buds and cover the plant before the leaves appear. They are are star shaped, up to 10cm across, with at least 12 thin delicate petal like tepals. The fruit is about 5cm long, that matures and opens by slits revealing seeds which are orange red in color. The roots of the plant are thick and fleshy which are close to the surface.

Magnolia stellata, commonly known as Star Magnolia, is native to Japan. It was introduced into the UK in 1878, most probably by Charles Maries.

The etymological root of the binomial name Magnolia was named after Pierre Magnol, a 17th century French botanist. Stellata is derived from the Latin stella ‘star’, in reference to the plant’s flowers.

Magnolia stellata (11/03/2012, Kew, London)

Magnolia stellata (11/03/2012, Kew, London)

The landscape architect may find Magnolia stellata useful as a large specimen shrub. It should be given a sheltered position and space should be given to this plant for it to be fully appreciated.

Ecologically, M. stellata’s flowers are  pollinated by bees.

The Royal Horticultural Society has given M. stellata their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

M. stellata prefers moist, fertile, deep, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil, although it prefers acidic soils.

M. stellata requires little maintenance. Care should be taken not to disturb the roots of this plant.

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