14 Different Types Of Magnolia Trees (With Photos)

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There are over 300 types of Magnolia trees. These trees have existed for over a millennium and have evolved into different varieties and species over time. 

Unlike other trees, magnolia flowers do not produce nectar but proteins that serve as food for bees, pollinating them. 

In this article, we will highlight the different magnolia tree types and how to identify the different varieties of magnolia trees.

Let’s get started!

Types Of Magnolia Trees

There are over 300 discovered species of Magnolia trees, with more than nine species peculiar to the US. The following are the most common types of magnolia trees:

See Also: Different Types of Bonsai Trees

1. Southern Magnolia 

This is called the bull bay, majestic beauty, or magnolia grandiflora. It is one of the most common magnolia trees, and it’s most native to North America. It is the oldest Magnolia tree in the world, with a life span of 120 years. Currently, the oldest magnolia tree is 320 years old. 

It has quite a beautiful and profuse flowering network and is resistant to most pests and diseases; hence it’s used as a street tree. It’s mainly used as an ornamental tree, and because of its massive growth, it provides shade for Canadians.  

Asides from its beautification features, the Southern Magnolia has medicinal properties. She can be used in curing abdominal discomforts, hypertension, epilepsy, infertility issues, cancer growth,  inflammation, Alzheimer’s disease, skin diseases, etc.

2. Yulan Magnolia

This is known as a lily tree or magnolia denudara. It is said to be the most beautiful Magnolia tree to have existed. This is a small deciduous tree with large creamy petals and fragrances.

The Yulan magnolia has long been cultivated in Eastern China by Buddist monasteries and thought highly of by the locals. It is regarded as a flower of purity and womanhood.

However, like its other counterparts, it has some medicinal value. The young flower buds are turned into herbs used in treating colds and other illnesses associated with colds, e.g., coughs and nasal congestion.

Part of the Yulan magnolia tree is edible. Its flowery petals are crushed into powder for food seasoning.  If you are a lover of rice, chances are that you have eaten some pickles which were made from the petals of the Yulan Magnolia.

3. Cucumber Magnolia

This species of Magnolia tree is called the Yellow flower Magnolia/magnolia acuminata. Unlike the name, it doesn’t produce cucumber fruits but bears a striking resemblance to the vegetable 

This Magnolia tree is not edible for man’s consumption, but birds and animals eat its seeds and fruits. The magnolia cone-shaped fruits and seeds are a significant diet for birds and rodents. 

Another feature of the cucumber tree is that it is large and provides shade in gardens and walkways. Its beautiful flowers make this tree an excellent ornamental tree. 

They are widely found in Canada, and this is the only place such Magnolias are native. 

4. Star Magnolia 

This species of the Magnolia tree, magnolia stellar, is the smallest existing shrub and the hardiest Magnolia tree. It’s widely found and grown in Japan.

The Star Magnolia is star-shaped with pure white flowers and is a pure, delicious plant, shedding its leaves annually. 

They prefer to grow in a partially shady environment than in full sunlight away from strong winds.

Due to its stunt nature and strong roots, the star magnolia helps to prevent soil erosion and can prevent flooding. 

The flowers are beautiful, measuring 8-13 mm, and bloom fully in direct sunlight; hence, they can be used as ornamental trees around gardens and houses.

5. Teddy Bear Magnolia

This is a Southern Magnolia tree but an improved version resistant to diseases and pests like other magnolia trees.

It has many seeds and brightly scented flowers, and it is grown shorter, unlike other magnolia trees. It’s not an evergreen shrub, but it does not shed its leaves like other magnolia trees.

They provide as many benefits as other southern magnolia trees and are a version tailored to your taste. If you want to grow a Magnolia tree so severely, you may want to consider planting the Teddy bear Magnolia tree in your garden, from the lawn, or very close to your home. 

6. Japanese Willow-Leafed Magnolia

This is known widely as Anise magnolia or magnolia salicifolia and is native to Japan. They can grow to 40ft and look like the willow tree.  

The difference between a willow tree and the Anise Magnolia is the leaves. The former has more narrow leaves than t

other types of magnolia, but this type of magnolia’s leaves are thinner than other regular Magnolia

The bark and leaves of this Magnolia are fine-scented, and its flowers are beautiful when it blossoms in direct sunlight. They also are usually whitish with very long petals with a scented middle that attracts birds and insects for pollination.

7. Magnolia Biondii

Photo by John Winder via Flickr

This type of Magnolia tree is called the “hope of spring” because its flowers blossom earlier than other flowers. It is a small deciduous tree that is found mainly in the mountain forest of China. 

They grow to 35ft and are a close relative of the Japanese willow-leafed tree. Its small and white followers and its petals and flower buds are used as food in some parts of China. 

More so, this species of magnolia has some medicinal properties and is used to make herbs for cold-related diseases. It is also an active ingredient in making cough drugs. Botanically, it is called magnolia biondii.

8. Houpo Magnolia

One of the most common Magnolia trees is the magnolia officinalis, whose bark, leaves, and flowers are used to make herbs that served as treatments for simple and life-threatening ailments in ancient communities like China. 

Houpo Magnolia barks contain a sleep-inducing chemical called “Magnolol” therefore. It’s a significant ingredient of sleeping pills and anesthetics. 

These Magnolia shrubs not only retain their medical properties in modern times but are used as ornamental trees and windbreakers. 

9. Bigleaf Magnolia 

One distinctive feature of this type of Magnolia tree is its leaves. They are so large and long that they can measure up to 32 inches on average, and they can equally grow up to 30fts. 

In saner climates, the big leaf magnolia is an evergreen tree but tends to shed its leaves in hotter and dry climates. However, they are common in Mexico and some parts of South America.

Its flowers are white colored with small purple bases. It has pink-colored fruits but is not edible for human consumption. Instead, the woods obtained from these trees are used to make furniture like kitchen cabinets and wooden floors because they are so fragile.

10. Daybreak Magnolia 

This type of Magnolia tree has pretty flowers that are pinkish, cup-shaped, and sweet-scented. This shrub crosses the Magnolia lily and Yulan magnolia trees and sheds most of its leaves annually. 

Botanically they are called magnolia soulangeana. They grow to 60 feet and are ornamental trees used to beautify parks, houses, and walkways. They are also good trees for light shades. 

Daybreak Magnolia helps to remove carbon footprint to maintain a balance in the ecosystem. To do this, it absorbs the carbon gasses in the atmosphere and releases clean oxygen into the environment. 

11. Magnolia Heaven Scent

The heaven-scent magnolia is a small magnolia tree heavily scented with pinkish flowers. The barks have very dark foliage, and their branches are well-spread with slender heaven-scent Magnolia flowers at the tip. 

One major characteristic of this Magnolia tree is its ability to tolerate drought and go for months without water. Though, at the maturing stage of the heaven scent magnolia, it requires water for proper growth. When grown, it can go for days and months without water. 

Such trees are found in warmer climates like Mississippi and Louisiana and love to come in contact with direct sunlight. They are highly deciduous and shed their leaves annually. 

12. Umbrella Magnolia 

Like the name, the flowers of this type of magnolia bear a semblance to an umbrella. It has large petals and a curvy appearance, although it’s mainly white. 

Unlike other magnolia trees, they do not have any pleasant fragrance, but their leaves serve as cool shades from the sun. 

The trees are also deciduous like their counterpart and can grow under direct sunlight. They can grow up to 50 feet and generally have as many as 20 leaves on their branches. 

The botanical name of the umbrella magnolia is magnolia tripetalia, and it is most native to North America 

13 Magnolia Susan Tree

It’s prevalent to cross-breed the species of a magnolia plant, and the Magnolia Susan tree happens to be a hybrid of magnolia stellata and magnolia liliiflora 

As a progeny, it’s expected it takes up the characteristics of its proteges but modified to be resistant to some pest and disease. 

However, the Magnolia Susan is a dwarf purple flowered tree and commonly an ornamental plant. It is colorful and attractive to birds and butterflies.

14. Lily Magnolia 

This is one of the smallest species of the Magnolia and is used in cross-breeding many hybrids like the Magnolia Susan and Daybreak Magnolia.

It’s primarily grown in warmer climates, and its flowers are pinkish-purple. It does not

grow too tall but can grow up to 8m long. 

Like other Magnolia trees, it is majorly deciduous. It has some medicinal properties and treats fever and slight colds.

Magnolia Tree Identification 

There are many ways you can identify magnolia trees, but the most common methods of identifying magnolias are; through the leaves, branches, and stems.

If you want to identify a Magnolia tree,  the first thing you would do is to check the leaves, flower, petals arrangement, root system, and foliage. 

We would explain how you can identify different types of magnolia with the above listed. 

1. Identification by leaves

Magnolia leaves are primarily green in warmer climates and brown when it’s time to shed. Also, recall that most of the listed Magnolia tree types are deciduous. This means they lose their leaves yearly or biannually. 

Some species of magnolia have leaves of two colors. The cucumber tree, for example, has some peaches of brown underneath the trees. 

More so, the leaves of some magnolia trees are enormous. In some species, like the Bigleaf Magnolia, the leaves are about 10-30 inches long. For smaller Magnolias, their leaves are at least 5-6 inches long. 

If you come across a tree with big leaves shedding their leaves during dry seasons, there is a 50% chance that it is a magnolia tree.

2. Identification by branches 

One fascinating fact about the Magnolia tree is its branching networks. Some Magnolia trees have thin branches wide apart, with flowers and leaves at the tips.

One thing to note is that the branches of magnolia trees are fine, smooth, and thin. This is common to all Magnolia trees. Some have bigger branches and tally trees but have soft barks when young. However, this turns scaly when old.

Magnolia trees are considered large shrubs other than trees and are highly characterized by very narrow branches and twigs. 

Some species of magnolia trees look like single bushes.

3. Identification by flowers 

Every Magnolia flower is aromatic (scented). Most have sweet fragrances, while some do not. And this fragrance is not just typical to their flowers but their leaves and barks as well.

Magnolia flowers come primarily in cupped, curvy, star, and umbrella shapes and can grow as long as 10mm. The most common colors are all shades of pink, white and purple. However, they also come in unique colors like red, black, and yellow.

4. Meeting a florist 

If you are still not able to identify a magnolia flower with the above methods, you should consider meeting a florist. 

A florist is a person who sells flowers and engages in other forms of horticulture. They have good knowledge of flower types and can identify a Magnolia plant at a glance. 


There are many benefits to having a Magnolia tree around. Therefore, it is crucial to identify one when you see it. The abovementioned are some of the most common types of magnolia trees worldwide.

For Magnolias to survive in different climates,  it had to adapt to its immediate environment. Thus, causing diversification and the birth of new species over time with the help of adaptation and hybridization.

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