Star Magnolia

Basic Information
Tree ID: 
Genus and species: 
Kobushi Magnolia
Magnolia stellata is a small tree native to Japan that can reach a height of 4.6 - 6.0 meters. It is a deciduous tree that has a twiggy appearance with small buds in the winter. Its common name, star magnolia, refers to its large, white star-shaped flowers which bloom anytime between late winter to early spring.
Basil Abdalla and Yalun Zhang
Collected Data
Tree shape: 
Sprawling Shrub
Date of tree entry: 
2.26 m
Diameter at breast height: 
0.10 m

There are too many multiple trunks to accurately measure the DBH, so this is just an estimate
The bark of Magnolia stellata twigs is a smooth chestnut brown color. The bark of the main trunks is similarly smooth but has a gray hue.
Twigs & branches
The Magnolia stellata's twigs have a smooth chestnut color. The tree is soft wooded; therefore, twigs and branches are susceptible to wind and ice damage.
Magnolia stellata's leaves are oblong and approximately 4 inches long. These leaves are a dark green in the summer and become bronze in the fall.
Reproductive Structures
Magnolia stellata's flowers are fragrant, star shaped, and typically have at least 12 petals, though they can develop up to 30. The flower is radially symmetrical and is a hermaphrodite with both male and female components. The flower petals can range between white and pink and usually bloom in late winter to early spring. The flowers last up to three weeks, before they are replaced by leaves.
The Magnolia stellata produces a reddish-green fruit with orange-red seeds. The fruit is approximately 2 inches long and and opens in early autumn but falls off the tree before it is fully developed.
  • Winter
  • Spring
  • Autumn
  • Summer
Natural range of distribution: 
The Magnolia stellata is native to Japan and grows in the mountains north-east of the city of Nagoya.
Origin, history, and uses: 

The oldest fossils of the magnoliaceae family date back 90 million years ago, making magnolias among the most primitive angiosperms (flowering plants). The star magnolia originated in Japan and has been cultivated around the world as a flowering plant. It was introduced in the United States in the 1860s, and Its lack of serious disease and pest problems make it popular among gardeners.

Magnolia stellata's buds are covered in pussy willow like casings in the winter and its flowers bloom in the late winter/early spring. Meanwhile, the leaves develop in the summer and are shed in the fall. Star magnolia has a very slow growth rate, and it typically grows 3 to 6 feet over 5 or 6 years.
Other information of interest: 

Star magnolia is pollinated by beetles, and it’s woody carpels are strong to protect them from damage by the beetles.

The species grows best in slightly acidic soil.

Media and Arts
Video about Star Magnolia by Eric Larson at Marsh Botanical Garden on Yale campus

“She runs among whistling leaves; I hurry after;
She dances in dreams over white-waved water;
Her body is white & fragrant & cool,
Magnolia petals that float on a white-starred pool …
I have dreamed of her, dreaming for many nights.”

-Conrad Aiken (1889-1973)

“Star Magnolia”
“Candid soul, unstained,
fragrant, fine-grained
Wide open to the sky, and unafraid,
On your lucid white
shines purer light,
As if the sun himself to you had prayed”

-Mary Owen Lewis (1931)

Poetry Source: