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Magnolia tripetala (Umbrella tree)
Smith, R.W.

Magnolia tripetala

Magnolia tripetala (L.) L.

Umbrella Tree, Umbrella Magnolia

Magnoliaceae (Magnolia Family)

Synonym(s): Magnolia virginiana var. tripetala

USDA Symbol: matr

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Tree with large leaves, very large flowers, and a broad, open crown of spreading branches; often with sprouts at base. The leaves of this 15-45 ft. deciduous magnolia are clustered at the end of stems to resemble an umbrella. Individual leaves are 10-24 in. in length. The showy flowers are 6-8 in. in diameter and creamy-white in color. Their petals are thin and less symetrical than those of other magnolias. The flowers are followed by cone-shaped, rosy-red fruits.

Fairly common at low altitudes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina-Tennessee. The arrangement of spreading leaves somewhat resembles the ribs of an umbrella, hence the common name. The Latin species name, meaning "3 petals," probably refers to the 3 sepals, which are longer than the more numerous petals.


From the Image Gallery

23 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Leaf Margin: Entire
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Fruit Type: Aggregate , Follicle
Size Notes: Up to about 45 feet tall.
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Cone-like aggregated follicles.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , FL , GA , IN , KY , MA , MD , MO , MS , NC , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , SC , TN , VA , WV
Native Distribution: Irregularly distributed from e. PA to s. IN, s. to n.w. FL & s.e. OK
Native Habitat: Stream banks; swamps; rich woods

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Moist, rich, acidic, well-drained soils.
Conditions Comments: A good native deciduous magnolia for some home landscapes, although the large leaves and coarse texture may be cumbersome. The floral scent of umbrella magnolia is rather unpleasant.


Conspicuous Flowers: yes


Description: Cleaned, fall-sown magnolia seed will sprout the following summer.
Commercially Avail: yes

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1991 VOL. 8, NO.2 - Wildflower Outlook, Photography Seminars Offered, Ten Favorite Wildflower Areas,...
Wildflower Newsletter 1993 VOL. 10, NO.2 - Berry Browsing in the Backyard, Director\'s Report, Essays on Trillium\'s, Natio...
Wildflower Newsletter 1993 VOL. 10, NO.6 - Saving Trees and Plants at New Center Site a Big Job, Director's Report, Wildflo...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Magnolia tripetala in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Magnolia tripetala in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Magnolia tripetala


Record Modified: 2023-04-13
Research By: TWC Staff

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