11 Types Magnolia Flowers Every Southerner Should Know

Magnolia
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Think you know magnolias? Think again. There are countless magnolia species, each with its own beautiful, distinctive blooms, and we love them all. From the bigleaf magnolia to the saucer magnolia and every variety in between, we find ourselves yearning to see their blooms and enjoy their sweet fragrance in our gardens.

So, do you know how to identify all the different magnolia blooms you see? Most of us can pick out a classic Southern magnolia, as their creamy blooms are ubiquitous across the region. However, others are rarer. Can you distinguish between a lily magnolia and a saucer magnolia? How about a star magnolia and a Loebner magnolia? Some are trickier than others, but with a little practice, you'll be a magnolia expert in no time.

Browse these magnolia blooms, and see how many you recognize from the gardens in your area. Also, be sure to check out Southern Living's Complete Guide to Magnolia Trees for more information on magnolia planting and care.

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Bigleaf Magnolia

Bigleaf Magnolia
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Magnolia macrophylla

The blooms of bigleaf magnolia are white, with long flower segments that are often spotted with red. In some instances, subtle pinkish-purple hues are present throughout the petals, while in other cases, smudges of deep purplish-red can be found near the base of the flower, where the petals meet the stamen. As hinted by their name, these magnolias have giant leaves that can grow anywhere from 12- to 36-inches long.

02 of 11

Cucumber Tree

Cucumber Tree
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Magnolia acuminata

This magnolia species can grow to heights of 60- to 80-feet tall, and in the summer months, it produces flowers in shades of yellow and yellow-green. 'Brenas' has deep yellow flowers, 'Koban Dori' is canary yellow, and M. acuminata subcordata has big flowers with a lemony fragrance. These trees are mainly grown for their foliage rather than their flowers, which typically blend in.

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Lily Magnolia

Lily Magnolia
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Magnolia lilliflora

This magnolia's common name—as well as its scientific name, Magnolia lilliflora—speaks to the tree's graceful, tulip-shaped, lily-like blooms, which have elongated petals that are purplish on the exterior and creamy white on the interior. 'Gracilis' and 'O'Neill' have purple-and-pink blooms.

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Loebner Magnolia

Loebner Magnolia
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Magnolia x loebneri

The flowers of the deciduous Loebner magnolia resemble those of the star magnolia. These blooms, though, are spaced farther apart on the tree, and their flower segments, which are shaped like straps, are even longer and wider than those of M. stellata. 'Ballerina' is blush pink and fragrant, while 'Merrill' has white blossoms.

05 of 11

Oyama Magnolia

Oyama Magnolia
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Magnolia sieboldii

A compact deciduous magnolia species, M. sieboldii bears white, fragrant, cup-shaped flowers, inside of which are striking crimson-and-gold or crimson-and-green stamens. Following the flowers, pink oval-shaped fruits appear, which open up in the fall to reveal striking orange and red seeds. 'Harold Epstein' and 'Michiko Regne' produce semi-double blooms.

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Saucer Magnolia

Saucer Magnolia
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Magnolia x soulangiana

Also known as "tulip trees" and "Chinese magnolias," these magnolia trees produce fragrant, rounded, cup-shaped blooms in shades of white, pink, and purple. They bloom from late winter to spring, oftentimes before the deciduous foliage emerges. 'Alexandrina' produces blooms that have white centers and purple exteriors, 'Lilliputian' has pink and white flowers, and 'Rustica Rubra' has huge reddish-purple blossoms.

07 of 11

Southern Magnolia

Southern Magnolia
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Magnolia grandiflora

This evergreen magnolia, also known as Southern magnolia, can be identified by its thick, glossy leaves and big, fragrant white blossoms. It blooms in summer and is the state flower of both Mississippi and Louisiana.

08 of 11

Star Magnolia

Star Magnolia
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Magnolia stellata

This magnolia species produces distinctive blooms with clusters of long petals. This type of magnolia is smaller, reaching heights of up to 15- to 20-feet and widths of around 10- to 15-feet when fully grown. Due to its size, this variation can be grown as a larger shrub or a smaller tree. 'Centennial' has white blossoms, 'Jane Platt' blooms rosy pink, and 'Water Lily' produces pink buds and fragrant white flowers.

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Sweetbay Magnolia

Sweetbay Magnolia
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Magnolia virginiana

Another magnolia that's native to the South, the sweetbay magnolia is a smaller and more cold-hardy look-alike of its close relative M. grandiflora. It has creamy white flowers, and glossy dark green leaves. Because this tree will only grow up to 10- to 20-feet high and wide, it is a great selection for patios and borders. This tree is evergreen in mild coastal climates and deciduous in places with colder winters.

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Umbrella Magnolia

Umbrella Magnolia
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Magnolia tripetela

The flowers of umbrella magnolias have red seedpods, purple stamens, and distinctive flower segments tinged with a greenish-yellow hue. They grow large—up to 10 inches across—and are deeply fragrant.

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Yulan Magnolia

Yulan Magnolia
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Magnolia denudata

This magnolia species bears fragrant white blooms that have an upright form and are shaped like tulips. The flowers are often found with a purplish tint where the bloom meets its stem. 'Double Diamond' is a selection with a heavier overall bloom than the rest, making it a beautiful and dramatic planting choice.

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