12 Species of Magnolia Trees and Shrubs

  • 01 of 14

    Members of the Magnolia Genus

    Magnolia blossoms
    tania a. chau/ Moment/ Getty Images

    The scientific and common names of magnolia were given because of a French botanist, Pierre Magnol. These trees are either evergreen or deciduous and bear beautiful flowers. This genera belongs to the Magnoliaceae family. Other members include the tulip tree  (Liriodendron tulipifera) and the banana shrub (Michelia figo), which is sometimes included within this genus.

    Make sure your soil has proper drainage, as magnolia trees do not do well with wet feet. Create a watering system to make it...MORE easier.

    One interesting fact about magnolias is that they are pollinated by beetles. There were no bees around yet when this genus came into existence, so the flower evolved to attract the insects that were present.

    Continue to 2 of 14 below.
  • 02 of 14

    Anise Magnolia

    Anise Magnolia
    Garden Photo World/Georgianna Lane/Getty Images

    As the Latin and common names note, the anise magnolia has leaves that look somewhat like those of a willow tree or shrub. They are wider than willow leaves but not as wide as the usual magnolia leaf. This deciduous tree will produce white flowers with strappy petals before the leaves unfurl. 

    • Latin Name: Magnolia salicifolia
    • Other Common Names: Willow-leaved magnolia, Japanese willow leaf magnolia
    • Native to: Japan
    • USDA Zones: 4b-9a
    • Height: 15-30' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
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  • 03 of 14

    Ashe's Magnolia

    Ashe's Magnolia
    Ashe's magnolia can be a shrub or tree depending on how tall it grows. MeganEHansen/ Flickr/ CC BY-SA 2.0

    This species can be either a large shrub or small tree. It is sometimes treated as a subspecies of the bigleaf magnolia. The name is in honor of William Willard Ashe from the United States Forest Service. 

    • Latin Name: Magnolia ashei or Magnolia macrophylla subsp. ashei
    • Other Common Names: Ashe magnolia, deciduous magnolia
    • Native to: North America
    • USDA Zones: 6-9
    • Height: 10-30' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
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  • 04 of 14

    Bigleaf Magnolia

    Bigleaf Magnolia
    Each leaf of the bigleaf magnolia can be almost three feet long. Wendy Cutler/ Getty Images/ CC BY-SA 2.0

    This species lives up to its name and produces leaves that can be up to 32" long. It is one of the magnolias that is usually deciduous, though it can be somewhat evergreen in the warmer zones.

    • Latin Name: Magnolia macrophylla
    • Other Common Names: Large-leaved cucumber tree
    • Native to: Southeastern United States and Mexico
    • USDA Zones: 5-8
    • Height: 30-40' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Bigleaf Magnolia Growing Profile
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  • 05 of 14

    Cucumber Tree

    Cucumber magnolia tree
    Another name for the cucumber tree is mountain magnolia. Green Optics/ Flickr/ CC BY 2.0

    This magnolia is so named because the fruits look somewhat like cucumbers. The flowers are an interesting shade of yellow-green that are somewhat similar to tulips.

    • Latin Name: Magnolia acuminata
    • Other Common Names: Cucumbertree, mountain magnolia, cucumber magnolia, yellow-flower magnolia, yellow cucumbertree, blue magnolia
    • Native to: Eastern North America
    • USDA Zones: 4-8, 3 with protection
    • Height: 40-80' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Cucumber Tree Growing Profile
    Continue to 6 of 14 below.
  • 06 of 14

    Lily Magnolia

    Picture of a Lily Magnolia
    corrieb/ Flickr/ CC BY 2.0

    The lily magnolia is one of the smaller species, forming into a shrub or short tree. The reddish-purple or pink flowers are lightly perfumed. It is one of the parents of the saucer magnolia.

    • Latin Name: Magnolia liliflora or Magnolia liliiflora
    • Other Common Names: Woody-orchid, Jane magnolia, red magnolia, Mulan magnolia, tulip magnolia, purple magnolia
    • Native to: China
    • USDA Zones: 5-9
    • Height: 10-15' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun. Some shade will be tolerated, but better flowering occurs in sun.
    • Li...MOREly Magnolia Growing Profile
    Continue to 7 of 14 below.
  • 07 of 14

    Kobus Magnolia

    Picture of the Kobus Magnolia Tree
    Georgianna Lane/ Alloy/ Getty Images

    This is one of the parents of the Loebner magnolia, which you will meet in the next slide. The Kobus magnolia produces flowers earlier than other species. It tends to form multiple trunks.

    • Latin Name: Magnolia kobus
    • Other Common Names: Kobushi magnolia, Northern Japanese magnolia
    • Native to: Japan
    • USDA Zones: 5-8
    • Height: Usually 25-40' tall, but can reach 75'+
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Kobus Magnolia Growing Profile
    Continue to 8 of 14 below.
  • 08 of 14

    Loebner Magnolia

    'Leonard Messell' is a beautiful cultivar of the Loebner magnolia. magnolia1000/ Flickr/ CC BY 2.0

    This hybrid results from breeding Kobus magnolia and star magnolia. It usually has several trunks, but you could create a central leader through pruning if you prefer that look.

    • Latin Name: Magnolia x loebneri
    • USDA Zones: 5-8
    • Height: 20-30' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
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  • 09 of 14

    Saucer Magnolia

    Saucer Magnolia - Magnolia × soulangeana
    reliablewill/ Flickr/ CC BY-ND 2.0

    This tree was created by crossing the lily magnolia (Magnolia liliflora) and the Yulan magnolia (Magnolia denudata). It can either be a large shrub with more than one trunk or a small tree. While the blossoms are pink on the outside on the species plant, you will see white if you peek inside. Specific cultivars come in lilac, pink and white.

    • Latin Name: Magnolia × soulangeana
    • Other Common Names: Tulip tree
    • USDA Zones: 4-9
    • Height: 20-30' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
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  • 10 of 14

    Southern Magnolia

    Magnolia grandiflora
    Mary Shattock/ Flickr/ CC BY-SA 2.0

    When people mention magnolias, they are likely talking about this species. It is found throughout the southern United states especially, though it can grow elsewhere. It is drought tolerant.

    This magnolia has been named the state flower for Louisiana and Mississippi.

    • Latin Name: Magnolia grandiflora
    • Other Common Names: Bull bay
    • Native to: Southeastern United States
    • USDA Zones: 6-10
    • Height: 60-80' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    Continue to 11 of 14 below.
  • 11 of 14

    Star Magnolia

    Star Magnolia
    Cyndi Monaghan/Getty Images

    When possible, plant this in a sheltered location to help flowering in the spring as the buds are often damaged by frost. This species is deciduous and is a small tree or large shrub that features lovely white blossoms.

    • Latin Name: Magnolia stellata
    • Native to: Japan
    • USDA Zones: 4-8
    • Height: 15-20' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade


    Continue to 12 of 14 below.
  • 12 of 14

    Sweetbay Magnolia

    Sweet Magnolia
    Masahiro Nakano/a.collectionRF/Getty Images

    In cooler locations, the sweetbay magnolia is deciduous. It is the type species for the Magnolia genus. It will grow in locations with wet soils. 

    • Latin Name: Magnolia virginiana
    • Other Common Names: Beaver tree, sweetbay, swamp magnolia, swampbay, whitebay, laurel magnolia
    • Native to: Eastern United States
    • USDA Zones: 5-10
    • Height: 10-60' tall depending on location
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Sweetbay Magnolia Growing Profile
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  • 13 of 14

    Umbrella Magnolia

    Magnolia tripetala
    Fritz Flohr Reynolds/ Flickr/ CC BY-SA 2.0

    The name umbrella magnolia refers to the appearance of the leaves since they hang down around the ends of the branches. It is a deciduous tree that is hardier than many other magnolias.

    • Latin Name: Magnolia tripetala
    • Other Common Names: Umbrella-tree, elkwood
    • Native to: Eastern United States
    • USDA Zones: 5-8
    • Height: 15-40' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade, may be able to handle full shade
    Continue to 14 of 14 below.
  • 14 of 14

    More Trees and Shrubs to Consider

    Flowering shrubs in a garden
    Paul Thompson/ Photographer's Choice RF/ Getty Images

    Are you trying to figure out what you want to add to your yard? It's a good idea to look at different types of trees and shrubs to find what style you like and what will grow best in your area. Check out: