Magnolia figo
Common Name: banana magnolia 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Magnoliaceae
Native Range: Southeastern China, Korea
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 6.00 to 10.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 10.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to June
Bloom Description: Creamy pale yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 8-10 where this magnolia is best grown in evenly moist, fertile, slightly acidic, organically rich, well-drained loams in part shade. Tolerates full sun, but foliage may turn a less attractive yellow green. Also tolerates substantial shade, but plant foliage tends to open up. Site in locations protected from strong winds. In areas near the northern edge of the growing range, avoid locating plants in southern exposures close to houses where the buds may be induced to open too early in spring. Plants appreciate consistent and regular moisture throughout the year, and are generally intolerant of soil extremes (dry or wet). Mulch root zone.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Magnolia figo, commonly called banana shrub, is a dense, rounded, multi-stemmed, broadleaf evergreen shrub that typically matures over time to 6-10' tall and as wide. It is native to China. Cup-shaped, creamy pale yellow flowers (to 1 1/2" diameter) bloom from spring to summer (April-June). Each flower is made up of six tepals (petal-like sepals) with very thin red margins. Glossy, oblong, evergreen, dark green leaves (to 3-5" long) are attractive throughout the year.

Synonymous with and formerly known as Michelia figo.

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

This plant was originally described from a specimen located in the former Portugese colony of Macau, and its specific epithet comes from the local Macanese Patois vernacular name fula figo (fula meaning "flower" and figo meaning "banana").

The name banana shrub refers to the intense banana-like fragrance of the blooms.


No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for scale. Late frosts may damage flowers.


Excellent understory magnolia for part-shade areas of the landscape. Bushy foundation plant for privacy hedge. Specimen/accent. Shrub borders. Plant in areas where the fragrant flowers can easily be appreciated.