Magnolia denudata (Yulan - Jade Orchid)
Syn: Yulan, Lily Tree, M. heptapeta, M. conspicua
AM 1926 Borde Hill to the clone 'Purple Eye', FCC 1968, AGM (1936, 1993) 2012
A large arborescent shrub or small tree to 12m/10m in cultivation after c.100 years. (15m reported in China).
10 year height/spread: 3m/4m
Flowers: usually 9 tepals 7-8.5cm long, very occasionally up to 12. Precocious and almost
always erect and chalice shaped, but sometimes opening out before falling. Usually close to white,
with or without a purple basal stain or green basal shading externally.
It seems likely that the colour of the species can range from pink (e.g. 'Forrest's Pink') through to
pure white, ivory and pale yellow (e.g. 'Yellow River'): seedlings of all these colours are widely
planted in China, but some may be hybrids.
Lemon scented: March/April.
Foliage: obovate-elliptic or obovate-oblong leaves to 6.5-15cm long, 4.6-11.2cm wide, apex sharply
acuminate or occasionally rounded or emarginate. Dark green and sometimes reticulate above, slightly
pubescent on the main veins, lighter below, puberelent along the veins. Petiole tomentose.
Introduced to England: 1780 by Sir Joseph Banks
Distribution: Eastern China: Anhui, Hunan, Jiangxi and Zhejiang, but cultivated all over the country and in Japan.
Recognise by: the elegantly poised usually close to white flowers with 9 tepals on the naked branches
in early spring. Silvery grey or yellowish hairy perules on the flower and growth buds; the leaf
size. Difficult to distinguish from some soulangeana
hybrids out of flower.
Seedlings flower after about 10-16 years. Grafts much younger at about 1.5m.
Cultivated in China and Japan for at least 1300 years.
Difficult to root, so less available than soulangeana cultivars.
This is a pity as it is superior to many in flower, growth habit, and poise. Suitable for small gardens.
Should be in every collection.
Typical form at Nymans, Sussex
Photo: Mike Robinson
'Fei Huang' (Yellow River) at Hindleap in March 2002
Photo: Mike Robinson
Dan Xin (Fragrant Cloud) at Herkenrode, Belgium
Photo: Philippe de Spoelberch
'Yellow Form' at Kunming Botanic Garden
Click on image for larger version Location: West Dorset
Photo: Roger Newton
Click on image for larger version Source: Arboretum Wespelaar Click on image for larger version Location: Wisley
Source: Arboretum Wespelaar
Click on image for larger version Location: SE Queensland, Australia
Photo: Roy Bilbie