Magnolia × loebneri 'Merrill'
Common Name: magnolia 
Type: Tree
Family: Magnoliaceae
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 20.00 to 60.00 feet
Spread: 20.00 to 45.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: White with pink blush
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy, Fragrant, Good Cut


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. May take 3-4 years before first blooms appear. Best sited in a protected location, because early spring frosts can damage flowers.

‘Merrill’ is noted for its good winter hardiness.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Magnolia × loebneri, commonly called Loebner magnolia, is a deciduous hybrid magnolia (M. kobus × M. stellata). It is a small tree typically growing to 20-30’ tall with a rounded crown. It is more often grown in a multi-trunked form that as a single trunk tree. Fragrant star-like white flowers (4-6” wide) with 10-15 petals appear in early spring before the foliage (March – April in St. Louis). Flowers give way to cone-like fruits that ripen to red in late summer, releasing individual red coated seeds suspended on slender threads at maturity. Fruits are sometimes absent on this hybrid. Obovate, medium green leaves (to 5” long). A number of hybrid cultivars are now available in commerce featuring flowers that are white, blush-pink, lilac pink or pink.

Genus name honors Pierre Magnol, French botanist (1638-1715).

Specific epithet honors Max Loebner, a German horticulturist, who made the first cross of this hybrid in the early 1900s.

‘Merrill’ is a vigorous free-flowering cultivar that is noted for its floriferous bloom of large white flowers blushed with pink. It was developed at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston from seed sown in 1939, and was subsequently named in 1952 in honor of Elmer Drew Merrill, botanist and one-time director of said Arboretum. Fragrant, star-like white flowers (to 3 1/2” wide) bloom in spring (March - April in St. Louis). Each flower has 15 or more petals that are blushed with faint pink at the base. Narrow, obovate, medium green leaves (to 5” long). Synonymous with M. kobus var. lobneri ‘Merrill’.


Late spring frost may damage early blooms.


Excellent specimen tree for the lawn or shrub border. Also effective on the periphery of a woodland area.