Magnoliaceae (magnolia family) Michelia

Michelia champaca champaca


This handsome tree has yellow-orange fragrant flowers suitable for perfumery in summer and winter, and sporadically in other seasons. The 2½-inch wide by 9-inch long light green leaves (longer than those of M. doltsopa) are pale below.

See a vigorous specimen at 678 Chimalus Drive in Palo Alto. Campus has a white-flowered variety, actually a hybrid with M. montana from western Malesia, appropriately named M. × alba, the white champaca. The large specimen at the southwest corner of Encina Hall was planted in 2002. A smaller tree is northeast of the Kingscote Gardens building, at the north end of the narrow lawn.

Several past plantings have not succeeded: One behind the Bookstore, between two saucer magnolias, was moved from behind Memorial Church in 2005 to make way for the camellia plantings. Another was planted in a small lawn on Lomita Mall near Panama Mall and Mitchell Earth Sciences in 2003. The tree planted at the east end of Sequoia Hall in spring 2002 died and was removed, as was the white champaca at the southwest corner of the Law School.

Name derivation: Michelia – Pietro Micheli (1679–1737), Florentine botanist noted for work on fungi.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. John Rawlings added notes on the locations and the removals ca. 2008.