A diverse family of trees, the lovely magnolias share some common traits that have made them beloved throughout much of the country. They are generally medium-sized or smaller trees, distinguished by unusual flower and wood characteristics that suggest they are the oldest of all flowering plant families. Indeed, many experts believe that only the conifers extend further back into antiquity.
Magnolias are distinctive in many other ways as well. They are known for their large, showy flowers, which in many species are fragrant, and which grow singly at the tips of branches. Magnolia wood is usually soft and light in color and is used in making crates, boxes, and light furniture. The tree is of perhaps greatest value as a prized ornamental that also attracts a wide range of wildlife.
This hardy Japanese magnolia remains among the most popular. In April its pink buds open to double white fragrant flowers of 25-30 petals, 3-4 inches in diameter. An upright and densely branched plant, it has dark green foliage that shifts to bronze in fall.
This lovely magnolia produces masses of large, white, starry flowers in April. Foliage emerges bronzy green maturing to deep green. Flowers of this vigorous grower are slightly larger than those of Magnolia stellata, 3" across, with 15 petals.