SWEETSHRUB, TULIP POPLAR and their cousins, the 10 species of MAGNOLIA planted among us

Winterthur, legacy of Henry Francis du Pont

Mt. Cuba, Hockenville, DE of the Lammot du Pont Copelands

Jenkins Arboretum, Devon, PA

Gibralter, Wilmington, DE

Morris Arboretum, University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, legacy of William Penn.  Here are many mature tulip poplars and Southern magnolia.


1995 – 2019, 2021, 2022 with gratitude.



The flowering period of the magnolias begins in March and is not done before mid-July. Perfumed flowers.


I know of ten species here. 


An eleventh magnolia species – Magnolia acuminata – grows at Winterthur.  However, I cannot tell it apart from Magnolia tripetala.





Star Magnolia (Stellata), non-native (Japan), flowers in March/April.  









Magnolia Kobus (Japan), flowers in April.  



The Kobus in early March, 2022




Merril magnolia x Loebneri – also grows at Winterthur.

It is cross between Magnolia stellata (star magnolia) and Kobus magnolia and was grown from open pollinated seed in 1939 at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. 

It has the sturdy frame of Kobus and the flower shape of the star magnolia.






Yuan Magnolia (heptapeta, China) blooms in April


A mature Yuan magnolia slopes down to Winterthur’s museum. 




Buds appeared in late April and this year the flowers were destroyed in early May on the verge of flowering by cold rain storms 




Saucer Magnolia (Soulangeana), non-native,  flowers in April.  












Butterfly Yellow Magnolia

(a cultivar of Magnolia × brooklynensis, itself a cross of Magnolia acuminata and Magnolia liliflora);

native and non-native, flowers in late April and early May. 










Oyama Magnolia, non-native, Japan; flowers in May and early June. 






Ashe’s Magnolia (ashei), native; flowers in June and July.  

Mt. Cuba has at least two plantings of this rare Floridian subspecies of Magnolia macrophyla.

Huge leaves with a flower which is deeper and more cuplike than other magnolia here.



Flowers this year were destroyed by cold rain storms


A single flower on the ashei in a year past





Magnolia tripetala, (Umbrella magnolia) native, flowers in May.  







Southern Magnolia (grandiflora), native, evergreen, fragrant flowers in May and June.  

A robust tree which may grow to 90′, they are often espaliered to eye-catching effect.


The tree seems to have cult status in some southern states.





Magnolia Blossom, 1925, gelatin silver print

Imogen Cunningham, 1883-1976, American.  Whitney Museum, NY




Sweet Bay (Magnolia virginiana) flowers in May and June;

vanilla-lemon fragrance; its leaves prized for flavouring savoury cooking



photo from the website of Mt. Cuba Center, Delaware

photo from the website of Mt. Cuba Center, Delaware



Sweetshrub/Carolina Allspice

(Calycanthus, Calycanthaceae, Laurales, Magnoliid);

native, fragrant flowers in May and June. 




 Harlston Wine Raulston sweetshrub 





Tulip Poplar (L. tulipifera, Liriodendron,

Magnoliaceae, Magnoliales, Magnoliid)

flowers in May and June. Fragrant flowers.


Far taller than any magnolia growing here – they may grow up to 160′ – they are one of our canopy trees.  Native to a vast area between Ontario and Florida.




A double-trunked tulip poplar partially reinforced by concrete. Jenkins Arboretum, Wayne, PA




At dusk on a summer’s day, these flowers glow like lit lamps until the light is gone

The tip of its leaves are V-shaped