Description & Overview

Magnolias are some of the first landscape plants in our area to deliver such a showy display, being one of the most endorsing signs that spring is finally here. These beautiful ornamental trees, native to Asia, provide spectacular blooms in spring. Magnolia stellata is one of the smallest magnolias. ‘Royal Star’ is a prolific bloomer bursting with large, double-white, fragrant flowers that appear before the foliage. ‘Royal Star’ Magnolia can be seen as a small-statured tree or large growing shrub. The deep green foliage transitions into a lovely bronze come autumn.

Core Characteristics

Category: Tree

Wisconsin Native: No - Introduced

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 4

Mature Height: 10-15 feet

Mature Spread: 10-15 feet

Growth Rate: Slow

Growth Form: Compact, rounded.

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade

Site Requirements: Moist, well-drained soils. Best sited in areas protected from high winds and southern exposure.

Flower: Showy white and fragrant, waterlily-like.

Bloom Period: April / May

Foliage: Deep green above and light green beneath, 2 to 4" in length

Fall Color: Yellow to bronze

Urban Approved: Yes

Fruit Notes: Brown/copper cone-like fruit that matures in late summer.

Suggested Uses

‘Royal Star’ Magnolia is well-suited as a landscape specimen. Its small stature and fragrant flowers make it ideal near a patio or outdoor seating area. This plant is coveted for its attractive flowers. Royal Star Magnolia should be planted in a location that is not excessively windy to prolong the blooms. The flowers are rather delicate, so to maximize the time you can enjoy these blooms, you should plant your magnolia in a location protected from high winds. Due to their early blooming nature, the flower buds are susceptible to spring frosts; you should try to avoid planting on southern exposure because the sun’s rays may induce the plant to bloom too early.

‘Royal Star’ Magnolia will tolerate clay soil and partial shade but will flower best in full sun. It appreciates consistent moisture throughout the summer. Keep in mind that it is intolerant of the extremes of dryness or wetness.

Magnolias are some of the first landscape plants in our area to deliver such a showy display, one of the most endorsing signs that spring is finally h…
Magnolias are some of the first landscape plants in our area to deliver such a showy display, one of the most endorsing signs that spring is finally h…

Wildlife Value

Most of our native trees, like Oak and Maple, evolved their flowers for wind pollination and usually go unnoticed during flowering. Their smaller, low-key flowers are not designed to be colorful or attractive but instead to allow loads of pollen to float considerable distances on the wind freely. Magnolias evolved a different strategy for pollination. Their flowers are incredibly showy, produce nectar, and have a strong fragrance all to attract insects. They invest more energy in these insect-attracting qualities over pollen production, producing much less pollen per flower than our native wind-pollinated trees.

The genus Magnolia is ancient and widely considered the oldest angiosperm, dating back 100 million years. At that time, pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and moths were not as prevalent. Instead, beetles and flies were the primary insect pollinators. Flightless beetles and flies are the types of insects magnolias evolved to accommodate. The pollen structure of Magnolias is much more simple when compared to other, more specialized flowers. The pollen structure in Magnolia flowers is designed so that when beetles stumble around inside the flower in search of nectar, they will bump into the pollen structure and get a nice dusting of pollen, subsequently pollinating the next flowers they visit.
Beetles are generally pretty messy pollinators. They have mouthparts made for chewing, not complex pollen collecting from tiny, delicate flowers. They often eat through the leaves and petals. Magnolia evolved to have thick, leathery foliage and flower petals to survive the damage and handle that kind of sloppiness.

Maintenance Tips

This tree generally doesn’t require structural pruning. If you do need to prune it, any pruning should be done after flowering to avoid cutting off buds that already begin to set for the next season.

Magnolias are some of the first landscape plants in our area to deliver such a showy display, one of the most endorsing signs that spring is finally h…

Pests/Problems

Black Walnut Tolerant: Yes
Deer Resistant: No
Rabbit Resistant: No

‘Royal Star’ Magnolia is generally pest free. It is soft-wooded and may be damaged by heavy snow and ice. The blossoms are susceptible to injury by frost or wind.

Magnolia scale is the only reported insect pest. Infested plants will have shiny and sticky foliage, often with black sooty mold growing on the honeydew produced by the adult female scale. Magnolias that become heavily infested are more prone to other issues. If you believe your Magnolia has scale, contact an ISA-certified arborist for assistance with treatment.

We invite you to check out the Arborist For Hire lookup at the Wisconsin Arborist Association website to find an ISA Certified Arborist near you.

Leaf Lore

The genus Magnolia was named after French botanist Pierre Magnol, a French botanist from the 17th century who was a Director of the Royal Botanic Garden of Montpellier, France. “Magnolia” is derived from the Latin word “Magnolius,” which means “of great excellence.” The specific epithet, stellata, means “star” in reference to its star-shaped flowers.

Magnolia stellata is native to Japan, originating in the highlands of the Island of Honshu. This Magnolia was introduced to the United States in the 1860s. Magnolia stellata is considered a botanical variety of Magnolia Kobus, the Kobushi Magnolia, and may be seen written as Magnolia kobus var. stellata.

Companion Plants

Consider pairing with flowering perennials for an appealing mix of colors. Potential companion plants include Blazing Star, Wild Geranium, Allium, Giant Solomon’s Seal, Sweet Black-eyed Susan, Brunnera, and Astilbe. Groundcover plants for underneath your Magnolia may include Bird-foot Violet or Spreading Jacob’s Ladder.

Magnolias are some of the first landscape plants in our area to deliver such a showy display, one of the most endorsing signs that spring is finally h…
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Written by Miles Minter