Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Identify Magnolia Trees

How to Identify Magnolia Trees. The thought of Magnolia trees brings to mind sultry, southern nights, fragrant odors and gorgeous many-colored flowers. This tree family is relatively easy to identify, given a few facts. They can be a beautiful addition to your landscaping project, although you may have to wait 15 to 20 years for the tree to flower.

Remember there are over 200 species of Magnolia trees, so with each one there will be variations. But there are common factors in each one which help to identify them. The Magnolia is a medium-sized tree (60 to 90 feet tall), evergreen or deciduous, fast-growing and has a soft wood. They are most commonly seen in the southern United States or Eastern Europe.

Notice the flowers are the most interesting part of the tree. Magnolias are known for their beautiful fragrance and incredibly large flowers--some species grow to be approximately 1 foot across. They bloom in a wide variety of colors, including yellow, white, purple and pink. Each flower has any stamens on a long or spiral stem.

Note the size of the leaves on some Magnolia trees. They can grow to be 12 inches long and 4 inches wide. They are a dark, glossy green on the topside, and the underside displays lighter, subtler colors. The leaves are alternating, with short stems and wavy edges.

Examine the bark of the Magnolia tree. It is thin and smooth, and covers a cork-layer, which is difficult to burn, and is heat-resistant. The twig has prominent bundle scars (marks left on the twig when the leaf breaks off). Magnolia bark is said to have many healing properties and has been used as a home-remedy to treat osteoporosis, diabetes and obesity and is used to boost the immune system.

Look at the fruit of the Magnolia tree. The dark red seeds grow in cone-like bunches where one to two seeds extend from pod-like containers when ripe. They provide food for birds who also propagate the seeds. The odd, rope-like root-structure of the tree exhibits one long taproot and is not branched like most trees.

Garden Guides