Botanical Name: Magnolia macrophylla var. dealbata
Common Name: Cloudforest Magnolia
Notable Feature: This member of the Bigleaf Clan is the rarest of the North American magnolias. Considered a Mexican cousin of our native Bigleaf Magnolia (M. macrophylla), this species is endangered in its natural range and is represented in very few botanical gardens.
Habit: An upright almost fastigiate, multi-stemmed tree that will reach heights of 150’ in the wild, but should only be expected to grow up to 20 to 40’ and 30 to 40’ wide under mid-Atlantic cultivation where it is surprisingly hardy, Zones 6-10.
Foliage: The dark green, tropical-looking leaves average 18 to 24” long and 8 to 10” wide and are used medicinally in Mexico. Leaves are deciduous, fresh green above and silvery green beneath.
Flower: Creamy white flowers appear in late spring and measure a stunning 15 inches wide, emitting a pleasant fragrance. Unlike M. macrophylla var. ashei, it is not a precocious bloomer, taking 7 to 9 years to bloom.
Fruit: Rosy red, egg-shaped, fruiting cones ripen in July and August, changing to a purplish brown. Seeds ripen to an orange-red.
Interesting Fact: The species was thought to be extinct until a population was rediscovered in 1977. It is an endangered species that grows in the mountainous cloud-forests of southern Mexico, which are themselves endangered ecosystems.