Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana)

Saucer Magnolia

(Magnolia x soulangiana)

The Saucer Magnolia is a cross between two Chinese species, the Yulu and Lily Magnolias.  It is planted widely in the U.S. as an ornamental tree.  It is a medium growing tree to 30 feet in height and almost as wide.  It often has multiple trunks branching at the ground of smooth silver-gray bark.

Their long, green, cone-like fruits, called an aggregate of seeds, mature in the fall splitting open to expose their red seeds.  The leaves are a medium green in the summer and turn yellow or sometimes an attractive brown in the fall, but not always.  Large swollen, fuzzy buds are useful for winter identification.

The tree will bloom starting from a young age, and cover itself with wax-like, tulip shaped flowers every spring.  The attractive flowers are the trees main aesthetic attribute, and will vary depending on the cultivar, with whitish tips and a red to purple base and every shade in between.

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The flowers are 3 to 5 inches across and very fragrant.  Their showy blooms are an early season show-stopper, and one of the first trees to flower each spring.  Since it blooms in March, it is susceptible to frost damage and may have its entire bloom destroyed by a return of heavy frost.  Most years their beauty and scent will captivate you and let you know that spring is on the way.

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