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 shade (4 hrs or less of light daily), Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Chicago), Zone 6, 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 silvery 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 6 to 9 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 frost damage.

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