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Star magnolia is a small multi-stem tree that is known for its outstanding flower display in March (February in southern U.S. and April in northern U.S.). Flowers are about 3 to 4 inches in diameter and fragrant; outer sides of petals (actually called tepals; about 12 to 18 tepals) are white or blushed with pink while inner sides of tepals are white. There are numerous cultivars (more than 25) that vary in flower characteristics (color, size, tepal number, date of emergence, and fragrance), plant form, hardiness, and growth rate. Because this species flowers in late winter and early spring, flowers are vulnerable to low temperatures. In most years flowers (or flower buds) are damaged to some degree, ranging from slightly damaged to total destruction, by sub-freezing temperatures. When flowers are undamaged, the flower show is magnificent.
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Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.
February 27, 2012