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star magnolia

Magnolia_stellata_treestar magnolia, Magnolia stellata

Scientific Name

Magnolia stellata

Common Name

Star magnolia


Star magnolia is native to Japan. It was introduced into cultivation in 1862.


Not native to Kentucky.


Growth Habit and Form

Star magnolia is an oval to rounded shrub or small tree that will grow15 to 20 feet in height with a spread of 10 to 15 feet. The habit is a very upright conical crown when young; crown spreads some with age.


Leaves are alternate, simple, obovate or elliptical, and 2 ½ to 4 inches with entire margins. Leaves are glabrous and dark green above and light green below.


Fragrant white (or pink) flowers emerge from conspicuously wooly buds in early spring. Flowers are 3 to 4 inches in diameter with 12 to 18 narrow petals, each petal to 2 inches long, strap-shaped and often wavy. Star magnolia flowers at a young age; flowers often bloom early enough to be damaged by frost.


Fruit is a cone-like, twisted, aggregate of follicles, 2 to 2 ½ inches long. Fruit matures in late summer.


Smooth, silvery gray bark is attractive on mature plants and adds winter interest.

Wild and Cultivated Varieties

Many cultivars have been introduced, showing a range of flower shape and colors.

‘Centennial’- flowers are white, blushed with pink, 25 feet.

‘Pink Stardust’-numerous petals, pink, turning lighter as flower opens.

‘Rosea’ flowers pink fading to white.

‘Royal Star’-pink buds open to white flowers, 15-20 feet.

‘Waterlily’- pink buds open to white flowers, later flowering.


Landscape Use

Star magnolia’s modest size makes it one of the best magnolias for small gardens. It is an attractive accent plant.

Hardiness Zone

Hardy in USDA Zone 4 to 8(9).

Growth Rate

Slow, 3 to 6 feet over a 5 to 6 year period.

Cultivation and Propagation Information

Although one of the hardiest magnolias, star magnolia’s early flowers are susceptible to late frosts and it benefits from some shelter. Star magnolia prefers full sun and moist, well-drained slightly acid soil. Star magnolia can be difficult to transplant due to fleshy root system. Propagate by seed and semi-hardwood cuttings.

Diseases and Insects

Magnolia scale

Wildlife Considerations

Magnolia trees provide homes, shelter and food for wildlife.

Maintenance Practices

Star magnolia needs minimal maintenance.


Star magnolia was introduced into cultivation in 1862.