Shrub or small tree 4.5 - 6.25 m tall, 3 - 4.5 m spread Leaves: alternate, dark green above, paler and often hairy-veined beneath, 5 - 10 cm long, 2.5 - 5 cm wide, elliptic or inversely egg-shaped, non-toothed. Leaves turn yellow in fall. Flowers: 7.5 - 12.5 cm wide, white, with twelve to eighteen petals, each petal 3.5 - 5 cm long and oblong to strap-like. Fruit: elongated, twisted, dry, and woody (aggregate of follicles), about 5 cm long, follicles splitting along one side to reveal single orangish red seeds, rarely fertile. Bark: smooth and gray. Twigs: brown, becoming gray with age, smooth with a stipular scar encircling each node. Buds: grayish, densely hairy, with flower buds much larger than vegetative buds.
Similar species: Although Magnolia stellata is easily confused with some other Asian magnolias, it does not resemble any species of the Chicago Region. It has densely hairy buds, stipular scars that encircle the lemon-scented twigs, fragrant white flowers with twelve to eighteen narrow petals, and elongated, woody aggregated fruits that split to reveal orangish red seeds.
Habitat and ecology: Rarely escapes from cultivation, but may be found in shrubby old fields.
Occurence in the Chicago region: non-native
Notes: Magnolia stellata was introduced from Japan as a landscape plant. It is commonly used and many cultivars have been developed.
Etymology: Magnolia is named after Pierre Magnol (1638-1751), a French botanist. Stellata is from the Latin word meaning starry, referring to the shape of the flowers.