Houpu Magnolia

Houpu Magnolia – Magnolia officinalis

Magnolia Flower

Houpu Magnolia is a deciduous tree native to the mountains and valleys of China at altitudes of 300-1500 m. It grows to about 20 feet. The bark is thick and brown but does not fissure. Leaves are broad, ovate, 20-40 cm long and 11-20 cm across. Flowers are fragrant, 10-15 cm wide, with 9-12 white sepals, appearing in late spring.

Houpu Magnolia - Magnolia officinalis var. biloba

Magnolia officinalis Morton Arboretum acc. 29-81*1, grown from seed, is 27 years old

The bark is used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is known as houpu. The highly aromatic bark contains magnolol and honokiol, two polyphenolic compounds that have demonstrated anti-anxiety and anti-angiogenic properties. Magnolia bark also has been shown to reduce allergic and asthmatic reactions. The bark is stripped from the stems, branches, and roots. Cultivated supplies today produce most of the bark for commercial and domestic use.

There are two varieties: Magnolia officinalis var. biloba with leaves notched at the apex. Only known in cultivation, possibly a cultigen, not a true variety; Magnolia officinalis var. officinalis: leaves with an acute apex. It differs very little from Magnolia obovata; the only consistent difference between them is that the fruit aggregate of M. officinalis has a rounded base, while that of M. obovata has an acute base. Further research may show it to be better treated as a subspecies of M. obovata (Hunt 1998).

1. USDA United States Forest Service
2. NATIONAL AUDUBON SOCIETY, National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees
3. Magnolia officinalis Morton Arboretum acc. 29-81*1 photos by Bruce Marlin

Magnoliaceae – Magnolia Family
The earliest flowering plants date back about 130 million years. According to Cronquist Evolution and Classification of Flowering Plants, the most primitive of all living angiosperms belong to the subclass Magnoliidae. This subclass contains several primitive plant families, including the water-lilies (Nymphaeaceae), and buttercups  (Ranunculaceae). Tree Encyclopedia | Tree Index | Magnolia Main