Common Name: Little Girl Magnolia
Origin: Garden Origin
Notable Feature: In 1965 eight cultivars of magnolias (Ann’, ‘Betty’, ‘Jane’, ‘Judy’, ‘Pinkie’, ‘Randy’, ‘Ricki’, and ‘Susan’) were formally named and released by the U.S. Arboretum, resulting from a breeding program carried out by Francis de Vos and William Kosar. These crosses, using the Lily Magnolia (Magnolia liliiflora) and the Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata), are affectionately known as the “Little Girls” – named after female employees who worked at the arboretum or after wives and daughters of staff.
Habit: Low-branched and shrubby, small, deciduous trees growing 8 to 15’ tall with spreading to oval habits, depending on the characteristics of the individual clone. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
Foliage: Medium green, thick and leathery, and elliptic to ovate in shape. The deciduous leaves are 6 to 8” long and emerge after the flowers start to bloom. Occasionally, some clones will develop a clear yellow fall color.
Flower: Large goblet-shaped flowers are 4 to 6” across and composed of 8 to 12 pointed, strap-like tepals. Colors range from deep pink to deep purple, but the color and tepal number may vary from year to year in response to environmental conditions. They flower in midspring to late spring and therefore are less likely to be damaged by freezing weather. Some clones will have a slight fragrance.
Interesting Fact: Late winter and early spring is an unpredictable time when the promise of a beautiful spring can be dashed by a late freeze. The Girls were developed specifically to help guard against this kind of gardening calamity.