Plant Guide

Magnolia denudata

Yulan magnolia, Jade orchid, Lily tree, Jade lily, Yulan

Deciduous tree up to 10 m tall, native to central and eastern China. Low-branching habit with spreading branches. Oval to oblong mid-green leaves with downy undersides, 15 x 8 cm. Flowers within three years. Mature specimens produce masses of scented, lily-shaped white flowers on bare wood in late winter and early spring before the new leaves appear. The outside of the flowers may be flushed with pink or rosy red at the base, but most specimens have pure white flowers. 

Synonym: Magnolia heptapeta

The Chinese have cultivated this magnolia for many centuries, going back as far as the Tang Dynasty (618 AD). It is depicted as a symbol of purity and candour in ancient paintings, embroideries, on scrolls and porcelains. Magnolia denudata was the first magnolia to be introduced from Asia to the Western world (England-1780).

Prefers a sheltered position in full sun or partial shade in any well-draining neutral or acidic soil. Intolerant of overly wet or dry conditions. Frost tolerant but flower buds may be damaged by late frosts.

Magnificent specimen tree, producing exquisite flowers from an early age. 

Type of plant

Tree - Deciduous


6-10 m tall and wide

Landscape Use

specimen tree for flower display and fragrance


  • Temperature: Hardy
  • Light: Medium High
  • Moisture: Medium
  • Soil: Light Medium Heavy
  • Wind tolerance: Low
  • Coastal tolerance: Low