Magnolia kobus

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Magnolia kobus DC.


Life form: tree
Usage: ornamental plant

Exposure: sun - Exposure: half shade   5

Moisture: moderately moist bis Moisture: moist

Soil: sandy loam

Arrangement: alternate
Leaves: decidious

Shape: obovate

Division: simple


Shape: cup-shaped
Fruit: follicle

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Inflorescence: solitary

Petals: not specified
Habit: erect

Canopy: broadly conical



Magnolia kobus, commonly known as Kobus Magnolia, is a small tree that flowers before the leaves appear.


Magnolia kobus was described in 1817 by Augustin Pyramus de Candolle. The name is considered as validly published.


The Kobus Magnolia is a species in the genus Magnolia which contains 130 species and belongs to the family of the Magnoliaceae (Magnolia Family).


  • Magnolia borealis
  • Magnolia kobus var. borealis
  • Magnolia praecocossima
  • Magnolia pseudokobus
  • Magnolia thurberi
  • Michelia gracilis


Magnolia kobus - habitus
Magnolia kobus - autumn leaves
Magnolia kobus - fruits
Magnolia kobus - seeds
Magnolia kobus - buds
Magnolia kobus - stem


The trees grow to a height of approximately 12 meters and have a broadly conical shape. They usually grow with one short stem that continues up into the canopy. There are also specimens that grow as multi-stemmed large shrubs.

Wood and Bark

Young twigs are green, the bark on older branches and stems is rough and silver-grey.

The wood is light brown and soft.


Magnolia kobus is a decidious plant with simple leaves. The leaves are arranged opposite one another. They are obovate to oblanceolate with entire margins. The leaves are 10 to 20 centimetres long and have petioles up to 2,5 centimetres long. They are fresh green and turn pale yellow in autumn (September).

Flowers and Fruit

The flowers are cup-shaped and snow-white with pink flushed outer bases. The plants bloom from April to May. The flowers are arranged solitary and develop from densely silvery pilose buds. It takes the trees a few years to flower and the full abundance of flowers will usually appear for the first time after 10 to 15 years.

The flowers are monoecious and pollinated by beetles. In late sommer they produce conglomerate follicles that are pink to bright red.

Root System

The fleshy roots grow shallow as well as deep into the ground and are sensitive to soil disturbance. The trees should be planted in their final place while still young since they resent transplanting when older.


Magnolia kobus is native to Japan.


The Kobus Magnolia prefers a sunny to half shady site and can withstand temperatures down to -28,2º C. It grows best in sandy, loamy soil that is moderately moist to moist.


The early and rich flowers make the Kobus Magnolia a valuable specimen tree. It can be used in parks and gardens or along light traffic roads and patios. The flowers are shown to special advantage against a backdrop of evergreen groves.

Good partners are for example Narcissus, Chionodoxa, Rhododendron forrestii or flowering cherries.

Maintenance and Propagation

M. kobus is best planted in spring. Take care not to injure the thin bark when mowing the lawn.

Propage by sowing seed in a coldframe. This can be done right after the seeds are ripe or in late winter. When doing the second the seeds should be kept cold over winter. Germination usually takes place in spring but it may take up to 18 months for seeds to germinate. The seedlings should be kept in light shade in a coldhouse for their first winter. Once they have grown to about 15 centimetres they can be planted out. Once planted outdoors they should be mulched and protected from strong frosts for the first two or three winters.

Pests and Diseases


  • Walter Erhardt, Erich Götz, Nils Bödeker, Siegmund Seybold: Der große Zander. Eugen Ulmer KG, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-8001-5406-7. (Ger.)
  • Christoper Brickell (Editor-in-chief): RHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. Third edition. Dorling Kindersley, London 2003, ISBN 0-7513-3738-2.

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