A much-branched deciduous shrub of rounded, compact habit, 10 to 15 ft high, usually half as much more in diameter; young bark very aromatic, at first silky-hairy; winter-buds shaggy. Leaves 21⁄2 to 4 in. long, narrow oblong or obovate, tapering at the base to a short stalk. Flowers fragrant, pure white at first changing to pink; produced on the naked shoots in March and April. Tepals twelve to eighteen, more numerous than in any other magnolia; 11⁄2 to 2 in. long, narrowly oblong or strap-shaped, at first spreading, then reflexed. Most flowers also bear one to three small, inconspicuous and fugitive sepaloid segments.
Native of Japan, found wild only in the mountains north-east of Nagoya; introduced to Britain about 1877. For small gardens this is the most desirable of all magnolias. Its only defect is that its delicate petals are very susceptible to injury by frost, or even excessive wind and rain. But it flowers most profusely, and the first crop of blossoms if destroyed is succeeded by others. It sets its flowers unfailingly, and flowers even when less than 1 foot high. An attractive picture is made by planting this shrub in a group and growing beneath it, thickly, the grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum). The two flower together. This magnolia is much benefited by an admixture of peat in the soil, even to the extent of one-third.
There can be no doubt that M. stellata is closely allied to M. kobus, of which it is considered by Blackburn to be a variety (Baileya, Vol. 5 (1957), pp. 9-11; Amatores Herbarii, Vol. 17 (1955), p. 1).
cv. ‘Rosea’. – Flowers tinged with rosy-pink as they unfold but ageing to almost pure white. Imported by Messrs Veitch from Japan. A.M. 1893. Some plants seen under this name are not the true clone, from which, and indeed from M. stellata itself, they differ in their fewer, broader tepals and a much better developed sepaloid whorl.
cv. ‘Rubra’. – Tepals stained purplish pink. A.M. 1948, when shown by Messrs Notcutt, who received their plant from Messrs Kluis of Holland.
cv. ‘Water Lily’. – Tepals longer and somewhat narrower than in the common clone of M. stcllata, pink in the bud. Raised in the USA.
M. ‘Neil McEacharn’. – A magnolia with flowers resembling those of M. stellata but fast-growing and of tree-like habit. It was raised at Windsor Great Park from seeds of M. stellata ‘Rosea’ received from the Villa Taranto, Pallanza, Italy, about 1951, and is named after the creator of the famous garden there. A.M. 1968.