Magnolia lilliflora 'Nigra'
Common Name: mu-lan 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Magnoliaceae
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 8.00 to 12.00 feet
Spread: 8.00 to 12.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Reddish-purple
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy


Best grown in moist, fertile, slightly acidic, organically rich, well-drained loams in full sun to light shade. Intolerant of poor soils. Site in locations protected from strong winds (to protect foliage) and from cold winter temperatures (winter hardy to USDA zone 6), but avoid southern exposures close to houses where the buds may be induced to open too early in spring. Protection from late spring frosts is desirable. 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 lilliflora, commonly called lily magnolia, is a compact, rounded, shrubby, deciduous magnolia that typically matures to 8-12' tall and as wide. It is native to China. Goblet- or lily-shaped purple-pink flowers appear in spring (April to May) at the time of or shortly before leaf development. Each flower has six (sometimes 7) purple petals with white insides (petals are 3-4" long). Flowers are sometimes followed by cone-like fruit. Obovate to elliptic, pointed, dark green leaves (to 7" long) are attractive though much of the growing season, but may become unkempt by late summer, often due to mildew problems.

Synonymous with and formerly known as Magnolia quinquepeta.

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

Specific epithet means with flowers like a lily.

'Nigra' produces narrow, dark reddish-purple flowers with pale purple insides. Flowers are slightly larger than those of the species, with petals typically rising to 4-5" long.


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


Specimen or accent. Excellent compact magnolia for sunny areas of the landscape. Excellent accent/specimen or in groups. May be grown as an informal hedge or screen.