Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 540 Magnolia heptapeta

Common Names: Yulan magnolia Family: Magnoliaceae (magnolia Family)
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Yulan magnolia
Yulan magnolia blossom


Depending on how it is pruned this extremely ornamental magnolia can be grown as a tree or large shrub. I think the Yulan magnolia is most attractive when trimmed up as a tree that can grow up to 40 ft (12.2 m) in height and forms a broad rounded crown. One of the deciduous magnolias, it covers itself with huge creamy white flowers just before the leaves emerge in spring. These spectacular blossoms are fragrant and are held upright on the stem. They are 5-6 in (12.7-15.2 cm) across with some cultivars having flowers up to 8 in (20.3 cm) in diameter. Each is composed of 9 petals arranged around a pinkish center. Flowers are followed by a large 5 in (12.7 cm) long brown "cone" in the fall.

With age the rather smooth gray trunk assumes a twisted gnarly appearance that provides winter interest. If left untrimmed Yulan magnolia forms a dense multi-trunked shrub. In fact trees grown in Florida and other hot summer areas tend to be "shrubbier" than those grown in cooler climates. Even when not in bloom Yulan magnolia is attractive due to its pleasing form and large, 7 in (17.8 cm) long leathery leaves.


Yulan magnolia, Magnolia heptapeta, is native to China. This gorgeous tree is enjoyed in landscapes across North America and Europe.


Adaptable to most soil types. Light: Enjoys bright sunny conditions but also does well in part shade. Moisture: Needs supplemental watering during dry periods. Mulch well, especially in areas with hot summers. Hardiness: USDA Zones 6 - 9. Propagation: Harvest seeds from the "cones" in fall and plant immediately. Can also be propagated by layers in the spring - remove a small strip of bark from a branch, dust with rooting hormone powder, and pin the branch to the ground covering the wound with soil. By the end of the summer roots will have formed. Cut the branch from the mother tree and then transplant or pot.


Use Yulan magnolia at the edge of wooded areas or on an open expanse of lawn where it excels as a specimen tree. Plant in front of dark leaved trees like junipers or pines to create a display of the white blossoms that is spectacular.

Yulan magnolia
This ancient Yulan magnolia reaches artfully over a pathway in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.


Yulan magnolia is one of our most ornamental deciduous trees. The tree is fairly fast growing and begins blooming when very young. The delicious fragrance is an additional bonus. This magnolia has the advantage of blooming a little later in spring than some of the other deciduous magnolias like the star magnolia M. stellata and saucer magnolia M. x Soulangeana whose buds and blossoms are often clobbered by untimely late freezes. In the southeastern United States the Yulan typically blooms a couple weeks before the dogwood (Cornus florida) trees.

In some references you may see Yulan magnolia identified as M. denudata or M. conspicua, names which are now considered synonyms.

Jack Scheper 03/27/99; updated 3/8/04

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Magnolia species profiled on Floridata:

Magnolia grandiflora

( southern magnolia, bull bay )

Magnolia heptapeta

( Yulan magnolia )

Magnolia liliiflora

( lily magnolia, woody orchid, mu-lan, lily-flowered magnolia )

Magnolia macrophylla subsp. ashei

( Ashe magnolia, Ashe's magnolia, big leaf magnolia )

Magnolia stellata

( star magnolia )

Magnolia tripetala

( umbrella magnolia )

Magnolia virginiana

( sweetbay, sweetbay magnolia, swamp magnolia, swampbay, white bay )

Magnolia x soulangeana

( saucer magnolia, tulip tree, Japanese magnolia )

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