This tree grows 4.6 to 6 m (15 to 20 ft) in height, spreading to 4.6m in width at maturity. Young trees display upright oval growth, but the plants spread and mound with age.
The tree blooms at a young age, with the slightly fragrant 7–10 cm (3–4 in) flowers covering the bare plant in late winter or early spring before the leaves appear. There is natural variation within the flower color, which varies from white to rich pink; the hue of pink magnolias also changes from year to year, depending on day and night air temperatures prior to and during flowering. The flowers are star-shaped, with at least 12 thin, delicate petal-like tepals—some cultivars have more than 30. The leaves open bronze-green, turning to deep green as they mature, and yellow before dropping in autumn. They are oblong and about 4 in (10 cm) long by about an 1.5 in (4 cm) wide.
These magnolias produce a reddish-green, knobby aggregate fruit about 2 in long that matures and opens in early autumn. Mature fruit opens by slits to reveal orange-red seeds, but the fruits often drop before developing fully.
Young twigs have smooth, shiny chestnut brown bark, while the main trunks have smooth, silvery gray bark. Like the saucer magnolia (Magnolia × soulangeana), it is deciduous, revealing a twiggy, naked frame in winter. Plants have thick, fleshy roots which are found fairly close to the surface and do not tolerate much disturbance.
Common Name: star magnolia
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 10 to 20 feet
Spread: 8 to 15 feet
Bloom Time: March
Bloom Color: White
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Flowers: Showy Flowers, Fragrant Flowers
Tolerates: Clay Soil
Uses: Hedge, Flowering Tree
Best grown in moist, organically rich, well-drained loams in full sun to part shade. Generally intolerant of soil extremes (dry or wet). Intolerant of most urban pollutants. Best sited in a location protected from high winds, but generally avoid southern