12 Species of Magnolia Trees and Shrubs

varieties of magnolia trees
Illustration: © The Spruce, 2018
  • 01 of 13

    Members of the Magnolia Genus

    Magnolia blossoms
    tania a. chau/ Moment/ Getty Images

    Magnolias were named after the French botanist, Pierre Magnol. These trees are either evergreen or deciduous and bear beautiful flowers. This genus belongs to the Magnoliaceae family. If you're planning to plant a magnolia tree in your yard make sure your soil has proper drainage, as they do not do well with wet feet. Create a watering system to make it easier. One interesting fact about Magnolias is that they are pollinated by beetles.

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  • 02 of 13

    Anise Magnolia

    Anise Magnolia
    Garden Photo World/Georgianna Lane/Getty Images

    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. A Japanese native this magnolia thrives in full sun or partial shade.

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  • 03 of 13

    Ashe's Magnolia

    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. This native of North America can grow in full sun or partial shade.

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  • 04 of 13

    Bigleaf Magnolia

    Bigleaf Magnolia
    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 inches long. It is one of the magnolias that are usually deciduous, though it can be somewhat evergreen in the warmer zones. The bigleaf is native to the southeast United States and Mexico. It requires full sun or partial shade for proper growth. Check out the bigleaf magnolia growing profile.

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  • 05 of 13

    Cucumber Tree

    This magnolia is so named because the fruits look somewhat like cucumbers. It's also commonly known as the mountain magnolia or the yellow cucumbertree. The flowers are an interesting shade of yellow-green that is somewhat similar to tulips. It grows best in full sun or partial shade. 

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  • 06 of 13

    Lily Magnolia

    Magnolia (Magnolia liliflora nigra x veicthii) 'Raspberry Ice'
    Vicki Gardner / Getty Images

    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. A native of China, it can tolerate some shade but flowers better in full sun. Check out the Lily magnolia growing profile.

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  • 07 of 13

    Kobus Magnolia

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

    This is one of the parents of the Loebner magnolia. The Kobus magnolia produces flowers earlier than other species. It tends to form multiple trunks. It's also known by its common name the Northern Japanese magnolia. It grows best in full or partial sun. Check out the Kobus magnolia growing profile.

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  • 08 of 13

    Loebner Magnolia

    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. It grows to a modest 30 inches tall. Like most magnolias, it does best in full sun or partial shade.

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  • 09 of 13

    Saucer Magnolia

    This tree was created by crossing the lily magnolia and the Yulan magnolia. It can either be a large shrub with more than one trunk or a small tree. While the blossoms are pink on the outside of this species, you will see white if you peek inside. Specific cultivars come in lilac, pink and white. Its common name is Tulip tree and it does best in full or partial sun.

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  • 10 of 13

    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. It grows the best in full sun or partial shade.

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  • 11 of 13

    Star Magnolia

    Star Magnolia
    Cyndi Monaghan/Getty Images

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

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  • 12 of 13

    Sweetbay Magnolia

    Sweet Magnolia
    Masahiro Nakano/a.collectionRF/Getty Images

    In cooler locations, the sweetbay magnolia is deciduous. It's a native of the eastern United States and is sometimes referred to as a beaver tree. Other common names include swamp magnolia and Laurel magnolia. It will grow in locations with wet soils and full or partial sun. To learn more check out the ​sweetbay magnolia growing profile.​

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  • 13 of 13

    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. While it grows best in full sun to part shade, it can survive in full shade.