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Umbrella magnolia

Developing fruit of umbrella magnolia.

Umbrella magnolia is a 15 to 30 foot high tree native to the southeastern United States found throughout the Appalachian Mountains. The very large leaves appear in clusters at the ends of branches, and resemble an umbrella. Large, showy spring flowers, rosy-red fruits, and smooth gray bark add to the four-seasons of interest.

Botanical name:

Magnolia tripetala

All common names:

umbrella magnolia

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Planting Site:

  • Residential and parks

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • North America

Landscape Uses:

  • Specimen,
  • Shade tree,
  • Patio/sidewalk

Size Range:

  • medium tree (25-40 feet),
  • Small tree (15-25 feet)

Mature Height:

15-30 feet

Mature Width:

15-30 feet

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily),
  • Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Alkaline soil

Acid Soils:

  • Tolerant

Alkaline Soils:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Salt Spray:

  • Intolerant

Soil Salt:

  • Intolerant

Drought Conditions:

  • Intolerant

Poor Drainage:

  • Intolerant

Planting Considerations:

  • May be difficult to find in nurseries

Ornamental Interest:

  • Spring blossoms,
  • Fall color,
  • Showy fruit,
  • Showy flowers

Seasons of Interest:

  • early spring,
  • late summer

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • White

Shape or Form:

  • Pyramidal

Growth Rate:

  • Moderate

Transplants Well:

  • Yes


  • Birds,
  • Insect pollinators,
  • Small mammals

More Information:

Tree & Plant Care

This shallow rooted plant has a fleshy root system and is best planted in spring.
Avoid windy sites to prevent tearing of the large leaves.
Water in dry periods and apply a layer of organic mulch to moderate a cool root environment and conserve moisture.
Prune dead wood and crossing branches as needed.

Disease, pests, and problems

Flowers are often damaged by spring frosts and freezes.
Magnolia scale and verticillium wilt are potential problems.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to the southeastern United States.

Bark color and texture 

The gray bark is very smooth.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

The alternate leaves may be up to 2 feet long.  They are crowded near the ends of stems, giving an umbrella-like appearance.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Creamy white flowers are large (up to 10 inches across) and have an unpleasant odor.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

A  4 to 6 inch long aggregate fruit with a knobby surface, reddish-orange seeds emerge from slits in August and September.



Location of Magnolia tripetala (Umbrella magnolia) at the Arboretum