Japanese magnolia or Kobus magnolia is a medium-sized tree native to the forests of Japan. The early spring, goblet-shaped, slightly fragrant, white flowers are tinged with pink. In late fall clustered seed pods split open to reveal red seeds. Seeds are attractive to birds.
All Common Names:
- Residential and parks
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Shade tree,
- Medium tree (25-40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily),
- Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Dry sites,
- Alkaline soil
- Moderately Tolerant
- May be difficult to find in nurseries,
- Weak wood and branch structure
- Spring blossoms,
- Fragrant flowers,
- Showy fruit,
- Showy flowers,
- Attractive bark
Season of Interest:
- Early spring,
- Mid spring
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Insect pollinators
Tree & Plant Care
Spring plant only. Pick a sheltered location to avoid damage from strong winds, full sun for best flowering potential.
Magnolias are shallow-rooted and benefit with a layer of mulch to moderate soil temperature fluctuation and conserve moisture.
Prune after flowering.
Disease, pests, and problems
Potential problems include magnolia scale, Verticillium wilt, chlorosis in high pH soils. Flowers are susceptible to frost damage.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to Japan and Korea.
Bark color and texture
Young bark is smooth and silvery gray, becoming slightly roughened with age.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Simple leaves arranged alternately on the stem; 3 to 6 inches long with an entire margin. Little to no fall color.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Flowers are solitary with 6 to 9 white petals. They are mildly fragrant.
Magnolias flowers do not produce nectar. They are typically pollinated by beetles that eat pollen instead of nectar.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
The fruit is a pickle-shaped structure (aggregate) that matures from green to pink, then red. When mature the structure splits open to reveal seeds.