A deciduous shrub about 10 feet tall whose open flower, about 3 inches across, has a dozen or more strap-like tepals, usually white but sometimes pink. Lily and star magnolias may not be numerous but they hold their place in February with the other harbingers of spring.
Half a dozen young plants in Serra Grove, on the side of Sequoia Hall facing Serra Mall, were already flowering in 2003. A tall individual, severely pruned back to a single branch (as of 2020) is behind Memorial Church, immediately east of the Round Room, near a door. A small one blooms near the door on the south-east corner of Bechtel Courtyard, between Encina Hall and Encina Commons. Saucer magnolias and southern magnolias are nearby.
Star magnolia was seen in the original location of the Amy Blue Memorial Garden in the Serra Complex, now the site of the Knight Management Center. Four used to grow in the Law School Courtyard.
M. × soulangeana, liliiflora, and stellata share the striking characteristic that flowering occurs in advance of the leaves (or sometimes with the earliest foliage) – often in February. For stellata, sepals and petals are pure white, usually 12 or more and 4 times as long as broad (each up to only about 1.5 cm. wide). Liliiflora and × soulangeana petals are wider. Liliiflora petals are dark purple, with 3 short, narrow sepals. M. × Soulangeana petals are broader still, pink to purple, lighter colored to white outside; its petaloid sepals vary from half as long as the petals to frequently nearly as long (in ours).
Name derivation: Magnolia – Pierre Magnol, 1638–1715, botanist of Montpellier.
About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. Tepal edits, Mem Chu & Encina locations added, Amy Blue and Law School locations indicated as removed by Sairus Patel, Feb 2020. Magnolia Notes added by John Rawlings some time before 2014.