Magnolia wilsonii
Common Name: magnolia
Type: Tree
Family: Magnoliaceae
Native Range: China
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 15.00 to 20.00 feet
Spread: 8.00 to 13.00 feet
Bloom Time: May
Bloom Description: White with rose-purple stamens
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Clay Soil

Culture

Best grown in moist, slightly acidic, organically rich, well-drained loams in full sun to part shade. Part shade may be best in hot summer climates. Site in locations protected from strong winds (to protect foliage) and from cold winter temperatures (winter hardy to at best USDA zone 6), but avoid 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 wilsonii is native to the Szechuan and Yunnan provinces in western China. It is a large deciduous shrub or small tree that typically grows to 20' tall and to 13' wide. Nodding, fragrant, white flowers bloom in spring shortly after the elliptic-lanceolate green leaves (to 3-6" long) emerge. Each saucer-shaped, downward-facing flower (3-5" diameter) has pure white tepals (typically nine) with a center clump of rose-purple stamens surrounding a pale green gynoecium. Flowers are followed by pink fruits that ripen in fall. Magnolia wilsonii is included on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUNC) Red List of Threatened Species.

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

Specific epithet honors E. H. Wilson (1876-1930), English plant collector, who observed this magnolia in the wild in China in 1903 on a plant collecting trip underwritten by James Veitch & Sons, and, in a subsequent trip to China in 1908, collected seeds for the Arnold Arboretum.

Problems

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

Garden Uses

May be difficult to find in commerce. Plants grow well in the Pacific northwest, but will struggle in the St. Louis climate.