Content Detail

Umbrella magnolia is a 15 to 30 foot high tree. It is native to the southeastern United States and  found throughout the Appalachian Mountains. The very large leaves appear in clusters at the ends of branches, and resemble an umbrella. Large, showy spring flowers, rosy-red fruits, and smooth gray bark add to the four seasons of interest.

  • Family (English) Magnolia
  • Family (botanic) Magnoliaceae
  • Planting site Residential and parks
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale North America
  • Size range Small tree (15-25 feet), Medium tree (25-40 feet)
  • Mature height 15-30 feet
  • Mature width 15-30 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 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil
  • Season of interest early spring, late summer
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Pyramidal
  • Growth rate Moderate
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Planting considerations May be difficult to find in nurseries
  • Wildlife Birds, Insect pollinators, Small mammals
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat:

Umbrella magnolia is native to the southeastern United States.

Bark color and texture:

The gray bark is very smooth.

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

The alternate leaves may be up to 2 feet long. They are crowded near the ends of stems, giving an umbrella-like appearance.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Creamy white flowers are up to 10 inches across and have an unpleasant odor.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

The 4 to 6 inch long aggregate fruit has a knobby surface. Reddish-orange seeds emerge from slits in August and September.

Plant care:

This shallow rooted plant has a fleshy root system and is best planted in spring. Avoid windy sites to prevent tearing of the large leaves. Water in dry periods and apply a layer of organic mulch to encourage a cool root environment and conserve moisture. Prune dead wood and crossing branches as needed.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Flowers are often damaged by spring frosts and freezes. Magnolia scale and verticillium wilt are potential problems.


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