Magnolia hypoleuca - Honoki Magnolia


Magnolia hypoleuca - Honoki Magnolia

01May 2021

The enchanting giant: May belongs to Magnolia hypoleuca

Honoki magnolia, Magnolia hypoleuca, Japanese large-leaf magnolia or Magnolia obovata: many names lead to our plant of the month. And each one of these names reveals the essential characteristics of this deciduous plant.

It originated in the mountain forests of Japan and on the archipelago of the Russian Kuril Islands. There it reaches heights of up to 20 metres. In our part of the world, it grows only half that height.

The trunk with its smooth, grey bark is inconspicuous, as are the dark green to purple-brown branches and twigs. The crown is nicely formed and rounded, while the flowers and leaves command one's full attention.


The flowers and leaves have one thing in common: big, bigger, beautiful

The plump petals have an oval shape, like an upside-down egg (obovate). Each leaf is up to 20 cm wide and up to 40 cm long, which alone makes the plant an eye-catcher. If you only look at the leaves' glossy light to medium green upper sides, the Japanese large-leaf magnolia is easy to confuse with the umbrella magnolia. However, the slightly hairy bluish-green underside of the leaves makes it unique.

What makes Magnolia hypoleuca a true goddess are its flowers: to match the leaves, the creamy-white to yellowish-white flowers have a diameter of up to 20 cm. The perianth in turn has petals (sepals) that become slightly reddish towards the outside.

They unfurl together with its leaves from March to June, although in some regions only every two years.

And how could it be otherwise: the flowers naturally give off a heady, very pleasant fragrance. Some say it is reminiscent of melon.



Crunch, crunch, crunch ...

In areas with an abundance of hoofed game, the Honoki magnolia has more admirers than it deserves. Deer - and red deer in particular - find the buds, leaves and twigs of the young plants very tasty. This interest, known in the trade as browsing, goes beyond a light nibbling and is therefore critical to flourish and grow. And although our plant of the month is hardy in itself, late frost can be a threat to budding.

Magnolia hypoleuca is elegant in any wind-protected location, and any plant that blooms and blossoms so uniquely, deserves all the appreciation it gets.