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Magnolia denudata: Yulan Magnolia

Edward F. Gilman, Dennis G. Watson, Ryan W. Klein, and Deborah R. Hilbert


Also known as Magnolia heptapeta, this broad, spreading, deciduous tree has a relatively fast growth rate and eventually reaches 30 to 40 feet in height with an equal spread. The crown is open and forms a rounded outline several years after planting in full sun. The off-white, saucer-shaped, six-inch-diameter, fragrant blooms appear on the trees before the emergence of the seven-inch-long, dark green leaves. The blooms are followed by five-inch-long, brown fruits which ripen in early fall to reveal the bright red, inner seeds. Although there is no appreciable fall color change, the multi-stemmed, irregular form of Yulan magnolia makes it quite striking in the winter garden after the leaves have fallen.

Middle-aged Magnolia denudata: Yulan Magnolia
Figure 1. Middle-aged Magnolia denudata: Yulan magnolia.
Credit: Ed Gilman, UF/IFAS

General Information

Scientific name: Magnolia denudata

Pronunciation: mag-NO-lee-uh den-yoo-DAY-tuh

Common name(s): Yulan magnolia

Family: Magnoliaceae

USDA hardiness zones: 5B through 8A (Figure 2)

Origin: not native to North America

Invasive potential: not assessed/incomplete assessment

Uses: deck or patio; container or planter; specimen; espalier; highway median

Figure 2. Range


Height: 30 to 40 feet

Spread: 30 to 40 feet

Crown uniformity: irregular

Crown shape: round, spreading

Crown density: open

Growth rate: moderate

Texture: coarse


Leaf arrangement: alternate (Figure 3)

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: entire

Leaf shape: obovate, oblong

Leaf venation: brachidodrome, pinnate

Leaf type and persistence: deciduous

Leaf blade length: 4 to 8 inches

Leaf color: green

Fall color: no color change

Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. Foliage


Flower color: white/cream/gray (Figure 4)

Flower characteristics: very showy

Flowers of Magnolia denudata: Yulan Magnolia
Figure 4. Flowers of Magnolia denudata: Yulan magnolia.
Credit: Marc Frank, UF/IFAS


Fruit shape: elongated

Fruit length: 1 to 3 inches

Fruit covering: dry or hard

Fruit color: brown, red

Fruit characteristics: attracts birds; showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches droop; not showy; typically multi-trunked; thorns

Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure

Breakage: resistant

Current year twig color: green, brown

Current year twig thickness: medium

Wood specific gravity: unknown


Light requirement: full sun, partial sun, or partial shade

Soil tolerances: sand; loam; clay; acidic; well-drained

Drought tolerance: moderate

Aerosol salt tolerance: unknown


Roots: not a problem

Winter interest: yes

Outstanding tree: yes

Ozone sensitivity: tolerant

Verticillium wilt susceptibility: susceptible

Pest resistance: free of serious pests and diseases

Use and Management

This small tree is best used as a patio tree for shade and accent due to the low branching habit, attractive foliage and striking gray bark. It would look very nice lining an entrance walk to a commercial building or in a double- or single-row set-back from an entrance roadway or long driveway. It grows well in urban areas but avoid poor, compacted soil. It is suitable for an urban garden.

Yulan magnolia should be grown in full sun or partial shade on rich, moisture-retentive soil in an area protected from harsh, dry winds. Plants should not be exposed to overly wet or dry conditions.

Available cultivars include: ‘Japanese Clone', larger flowers; ‘Lacey', flowers up to eight inches across. Yulan magnolia was used as a parent plant along with Magnolia acuminata to produce the hybrid ‘Elizabeth' which has a pyramidal shape and clear yellow, fragrant blooms.

Propagation is by seed sown immediately after ripening since they will quickly lose their viability. Sometimes cuttings of these trees are grafted onto Magnolia x soulangiana.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases are of major concern, but it is occasionally bothered by magnolia scale, as are many other magnolias.

Publication #ENH-537

Release Date:April 11, 2024

Related Collections

Part of Southern Trees Fact Sheets

Related Topics

  • Critical Issue: Agricultural and Food Systems
Organism ID

About this Publication

This document is ENH-537, one of a series of the Department of Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006 and March 2024. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering; Ryan W. Klein, assistant professor, arboriculture; and Deborah R. Hilbert, UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center; Department of Environmental Horticulture; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Michael Andreu
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