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In Bloom

Magnolia dawsoniana Dawson's Magnolia
 
Magnolia dawsoniana at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell

Magnolia dawsoniana Photo by Mona Bourell.

Magnolia dawsoniana at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell Magnolia dawsoniana at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell Magnolia dawsoniana at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell Magnolia dawsoniana at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell Magnolia dawsoniana at San Francisco Botanical Garden by David Kruse-Pickler Magnolia dawsoniana at San Francisco Botanical Garden by David Kruse-Pickler Magnolia dawsoniana at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell Magnolia dawsoniana 'Clarke' at San Francisco Botanical Garden by David Kruse-Pickler Magnolia dawsoniana 'Clarke' at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell Magnolia dawsoniana 'Clarke' at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell Magnolia dawsoniana 'Clarke' at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell Magnolia dawsoniana 'Clarke' at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell
 

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This rare species is native to the mountains of western Sichuan Province in China, growing at elevations from 4600-8200 feet. It is listed as endangered in the China Species Red List, a regional accounting that assesses the risk of species extinction.

Magnolia dawsoniana was first introduced to the West in 1908 and named after Jackson T. Dawson, the first superintendant of Harvard University's Arnold Arboretum. This early-flowering deciduous shrub or tree can reach up to 65 feet with a broad pyramidal outline. It can take 45-50 years to reach its ultimate height and 15-20 years before flowering.

The large fragrant flowers which appear before the leaves, can be up to 10 inches across and are white to light pink, suffused with a rich rosy red. The tepals (undifferentiated petals and sepals) of this magnolia, are among the most distinctive of Asiatic species. They droop soon after opening and hang limply, resembling flags blowing in the wind.

W.B. Clarke & Co. Nursery of San Jose, California distributed plants that first flowered simultaneously in 1960 in the garden of Dr. Albert C. Daniels in Ross, California, in Golden Gate Park and at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Our oldest trees of the species are just starting to bloom this season, and can be seen in the Mesoamerican Cloud Forest and the Temperate Asia Garden.

Our earliest bloomer and most showy Dawson's magnolia is the cultivar, Magnolia dawsoniana 'Clarke', found growing in the Rhododendron Garden. It is currently in full bloom with the added benefit of the flowers mostly located at eye level.

Introduced by W. B. Clarke Nursery of San Jose, M. dawsoniana 'Clarke' is generally agreed to be the finest cultivar of M. dawsoniana available. It is highly regarded in western North America for its early and prolific flowering and its hardiness. The tepals of 'Clarke' are medium pink with a darker base, fading to light pink. The flowers resemble cattleya orchids.

Profile
Scientific Name Magnolia dawsoniana and M. dawsoniana 'Clarke'
Family Magnoliaceae
Plant Type Tree
Environment Direct sun or partial shade; prefers deep, rich well drained soil and medium levels of water. Has low drought tolerance and low flood tolerance; Hardy to -5 F; Looks best in early Spring.
Bloom M. dawsoniana January – March; M. dawsoniana 'Clarke' December – January; distinctive drooping of tepals after flowers open; blooms after 15-20 years.
Uses Large shrub to pyramidal tree to 65 feet in 45-50 years.
More Info Endangered in its native habitat in Sichuan, China.

IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS:
Text by Mona Bourell. Photos by Mona Bourell and David Kruse-Pickler.

Location

Magnolia dawsoniana are located in the Mesoamerican Cloud Forest (Bed 14A) and the Temperate Asia Garden (Bed 23C). The cultivar Magnolia dawsoniana 'Clarke' is located in the Rhododendron Garden (Bed 72D)

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Magnolia dawsoniana

Magnolia dawsoniana

January

Magnolia campbellii 'Strybing White'

Magnolia campbellii 'Strybing White'

February

Magnolia laevifolia'Strybing Compact'

Magnolia laevifolia 'Strybing Compact'

March

Aristolochia californica

Aristolochia californica

April

Chlorogalum pomeridianum

Chlorogalum pomeridianum

May

Arbutus menziesii

Arbutus menziesii

June

Romneya coulteri

Romneya coulteri

July

Cistus sp.

Cistus sp.

August

Rosmarinus sp.

Rosmarinus sp.

September

Dahlia spp.

Dahlia spp.

October

Salvia cacaliifolia

Salvia cacaliifolia

November

Salvia cacaliifolia

Salvia microphylla
'Hot Lips'

November

Magnolia campbellii

Magnolia campbellii

January

Magnolia denudata

Magnolia denudata

February

Magnolia x veitchii

Magnolia x veitchii

March

Iris douglasiana

Iris douglasiana

April

Aesculus californica

Aesculus californica

May

Vaccinium ovatum

Vaccinium ovatum

June

Sambucus racemosa

Sambucus racemosa

July

Sequoia sempervirens

Sequoia sempervirens

August

Asarum caudatum

Asarum caudatum

September

Deppea splendens

Deppea splendens

October

Montanoa spp.

Montanoa spp.

November

Bidens sp.

Bidens sp.

December

Acer palmatum 'Sango kaku'

Acer palmatum 'Sango kaku'

January

Magnolia campbellii 'Darjeeling'

Magnolia campbellii 'Darjeeling'

February

Bomaria spp.

Bomarea spp.

March

Rhododendron occidentale

Rhododendron occidentale

April

Polystichum munitum

Polystichum munitum

May

x Chiranthofremontia lenzii

x Chiranthofremontia lenzii

June

Salvia leucantha

Salvia leucantha

July

Hydrangea seemannii

Hydrangea seemannii

August

Wollemia nobilis

Wollemia nobilis

September

Cyathea cooperi

Cyathea cooperi

October

Pinus radiata

Pinus radiata

November

Correa spp.

Correa spp.

December

Garrya elliptica

Garrya elliptica

January

Magnolia x soulangeana

Magnolia x soulangeana

February

Senecio glastifolius

Senecio glastifolius

March

Ribes spp.

Ribes spp.

April

Oxalis oregana

Oxalis oregana

May

Calandrinia grandiflora

Calandrinia grandiflora

June

Taxus baccata

Taxus baccata

July

Romneya coulteri

Romneya coulteri

August

Passiflora parritae

Passiflora parritae

September

Malvaviscus arboreus

Malvaviscus arboreus

October

Monterey Cypress

Monterey Cypress

November

Aloe arborescens

Aloe arborescens

December

Aloe plicatilis

Aloe plicatilis

January

Banksia seminuda

Banksia seminuda

February

Zantedeschia elliottiana

Zantedeschia aethiopica

March

Magnolia laevifolia

Magnolia laevifolia

April

Araucaria heterophylla

Araucaria heterophylla

May

Toxicodendron diversilobum

Toxicodendron diversilobum

June

Clarkia sp.

Clarkia sp.

July

Agapanthus

Agapanthus

August

Brugmansia

Brugmansia

September

Cedrus spp.

Cedrus spp.

October

Protea repens

Protea repens

November

Camellia sinensis

Camellia sinensis

December

Thujopsis dolabrata

Thujopsis dolabrata

January

Gordonia longicarpa

Gordonia longicarpa

February

Rojasianthe superba

Rojasianthe superba

March

Echium spp.

Echium spp.

April

Iris douglasiana

Iris douglasiana

May

Digitalis purpurea

Digitalis purpurea

June

Felicia amelloides

Felicia amelloides

July

Ceroxylon quindiuense

Ceroxylon quindiuense

August

Amaryllis belladonna

Amaryllis belladonna

September

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba

October

Acer morrisonense

Acer morrisonense

November

Ilex aquifolium

Ilex aquifolium

December

Picea sitchensis

Picea sitchensis

January

Telanthophora grandifolia

Telanthophora grandifolia

February

Aeonium arboreum 'Schwartzkopf'

Aeonium arboreum 'Schwartzkopf'

March

Leptospermum Spp.

Leptospermum

April

Salvia gesneraeflora

Salvia gesneraeflora

May

Lavandula spp.

Lavandula spp.

June

Pelargonium

Pelargonium

July

Fuchsia paniculata

Fuchsia paniculata

August

Luma apiculata

Luma apiculata

September

Luculia

Luculia

October

Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo

November

Cycads

Cycad

December

Restionaceae

Restionaceae

January

Hellebores

Hellebores

February

Ceanothus

Ceanothus

March

Rhododendron

Rhododendron

April

Psoralea pinnata

Psoralea pinnata

May

Fremontodendron californicum

Fremontodendron californicum

June

Leucadendron argenteum

Leucadendron argenteum

July

Crocosmia

Crocosmia

August

Gunnera tinctoria

Gunnera tinctoria

September

Pellaea rotundifolia

Pellaea rotundifolia

October

Fuchsia boliviana

Fuchsia boliviana

November

Erica canaliculata

Erica canaliculata

December

Magnolia campbelli

Magnolia campbelli

January

Magnolia denudata

Magnolia denudata

February

Camellia

Camellia

March

Geranium maderense

Geranium maderense

April

Acmena smithii

Acmena smithii

May

Eschscholzia californica

Eschscholzia californica

June

Dendromecon harfordii

Dendromecon harfordii

July

Romneya coulteri

Romneya coulteri

August

Eupatorium purpureum

Eupatorium purpureum

September

Epilobium canum sp.

Epilobium canum sp.

October

Grevillea spp.

Grevillea spp.

November

Drimys winteri

Drimys winteri

December

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