Content Detail

Japanese magnolia or kobus magnolia is a medium-sized tree native to the forests of Japan. The early spring, goblet-shaped, slightly fragrant, white flowers are tinged with pink. In late fall, clustered seed pods split open to reveal red seeds which are attractive to birds.

  • Family (English) Magnolia
  • Family (botanic) Magnoliaceae
  • Planting site Residential and parks
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Medium tree (25-40 feet)
  • Mature height 30-40 feet
  • Mature width 30-40 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily), Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites
  • Season of interest early spring, mid spring
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, White
  • Shape or form Oval, Round
  • Growth rate Slow
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Planting considerations May be difficult to find in nurseries, Weak wood and branch structure
  • Wildlife Insect pollinators
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat:

It is native to Japan and Korea.

Bark color and texture:

Young bark is smooth and silver-gray and becomes slightly roughened with age.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Simple leaves are arranged alternately on the stem. They are 3 to 6 inches long with an entire margin This tree exhibits little to no fall color.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Flowers are solitary with six to nine white petals. They are mildly fragrant. Magnolias flowers do not produce nectar. They are typically pollinated by beetles that eat pollen instead of nectar.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

The fruit is a pickle-shaped structure (aggregate) that matures from green to pink, then red.  When mature, the structure splits open to reveal seeds.

Plant care: 

This tree should be planted only in the Spring in a sheltered  location to avoid damage from strong winds. It should be sited in full sun for best flowering potential. Magnolias are shallow-rooted and benefit from a layer of mulch to moderate soil temperature fluctuation and conserve moisture. Pruning should be done after flowering.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Potential problems include magnolia scale, verticillium wilt, and chlorosis in high pH soils. Flowers are susceptible to damage from late frosts.


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