Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Anise Magnolia, Japanese Willow-Leaf Magnolia
Magnolia salicifolia

Family: Magnoliaceae
Genus: Magnolia (mag-NO-lee-a) (Info)
Species: salicifolia (sal-iss-ih-FOH-lee-uh) (Info)

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15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)
20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:
Pale Pink
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
Unknown - Tell us

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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1 positive
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive coriaceous On Mar 11, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

The best of the spring-blooming magnolias, in my opinion, and unjustly neglected in our gardens and landscapes.

The white spring flowers resemble those of the star magnolia, and like them they bloom profusely on leafless branches. But they bloom about two weeks later, which means the display is much less often spoiled by an untimely frost. The fragrance is sweet and lacks the heavy foetid overtones most magnolias have.

The leaves are sweetly fragrant when crushed. To my nose, they smell like spicebush, or sassafras, or myrtle, or bay laurel, or of the flowers produced by the same tree. I don't smell anything like anise, but some apparently do.

Unlike most magnolias, the leaves turn a good yellow in the fall.

This species occurs in the wild as an understory tree in moist to dry woodland and mountain slopes. It blooms almost as well in dappled shade as it does in full sun.

All of the trees at the Arnold Arboretum have an upright-pyramidal habit, retaining that shape into maturity. It's said that other trees in cultivation may be multistemmed and shrubby or irregular.

Neutral Malus2006 On Mar 13, 2006, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

I saw a small to medium sized tree on the Minnesota Arboretum site. Hadn't seen it in bloom. Have lots of small leaves at least one to two inches long that smell strongly like anise. I wonder why it is rare as it was thriving at the site and is not necessary focus on flowers.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

San Francisco, California
Poplar Grove, Illinois
Lexington, Kentucky
Roslindale, Massachusetts

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