A deciduous shrub about 10 feet tall whose open flower, about 3 inches across, has a dozen or more pink petals. Lily and star magnolias may not be numerous but they hold their place in February with the other harbingers of spring. See star magnolia in the Amy Blue Garden between 651 and 655 Serra Street. Four are growing in the Law School Courtyard. Half a dozen young plants in Serra Grove, on the side of Sequoia Hall facing Serra Mall, were already flowering in 2003.
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. Magnolia Notes added by John Rawlings some time before 2014.