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Improved Banana Shrub

Magnolia figo var. skinneriana

Family: Magnoliaceae
Genus: Magnolia (mag-NO-lee-a) (Info)
Species: figo var. skinneriana
Synonym:Michelia figo var. skinneriana
Synonym:Michelia skinneriana
View this plant in a garden



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are fragrant

Water Requirements:

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)


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)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade



Bloom Color:

Pale Yellow

Bloom Time:

Late Winter/Early Spring



Provides winter interest

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:

Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing


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

Anniston, Alabama

Huntsville, Alabama

Pelham, Alabama

Lafayette, California

Brandon, Florida

Branford, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

Ocala, Florida

Old Town, Florida

Tampa, Florida

Trenton, Florida

Barnesville, Georgia

Marietta, Georgia

Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaii

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Coushatta, Louisiana

Mandeville, Louisiana

Gulfport, Mississippi

Saucier, Mississippi

Davidson, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina

Wilmington, North Carolina

Conway, South Carolina

North Augusta, South Carolina

Sumter, South Carolina

Frisco, Texas

Houston, Texas

La Porte, Texas

New Caney, Texas

Tacoma, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Aug 22, 2015, smileclick from Sydney,
Australia wrote:

Labelled as "Lady of the Night" a larger leaf variety of the port wine magnolia, I bought one last 6 months ago and it started to flower a week ago (early spring), and was disappointed as it had no scent. I had the same problem with a moonflower vine previously.
The trick being to ensure the soil moist, and the air temperature night and day is not too cold. As the outside temperature was varying between 12C and 20C (54F and 68F), I moved to a sunny spot indoors, where the temperature was around 18C at night and 24C in the day(65F to 75F). Sure enough, the semi opened flowers at dusk are giving off a strong banana syrup fragrance when you smell the flowers close up, on the 1.2m/4' tall potted shrub.


On May 2, 2009, nativeGeorgian from Marietta, GA (Zone 7a) wrote:

Delightful, practically care-free ; started blooming this year (2009) on April 20th, and usually blooms for close to a month. Intensely fragrant, I guess is the best way to put it, as I can even smell it when I'm inside the house (open windows, of course). We've been in a drought situation for several years here, and I've rarely watered it (restrictions), but it's in bloom again this year, and it's growing in partial shade. I'm in hardiness zone 7.


On Apr 2, 2008, passiflora_pink from Central, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

Delightful shrub for the fragrance garden. Evergreen leaves make it attractive year round. Mine requires no care.


On Jul 2, 2007, GulfportMSgirl from Gulfport, MS wrote:

We have a banana shrub tree that is on our property (well my grandparents old place - that was passed down many generations). It has is over twenty feet tall and throws the prettiest little magnoila flowers that smell like bananas when you drive up my grandparents house. I had asked one of my daddy's sister the name and then I asked my mom both told me the wrong name being something like franschisa (forgive me if that is spelled wrong). But I decided to search for it on the internet and with pictures and detail I realize the name is the "Banana shrub tree or known as the Michelia Figo". I located the best picture of the flower on - it was exciting to finally locate the tree's true name. Again this tree grows wonderful in Gulfport, Mississippi. I am planning to order for my p... read more


On Mar 2, 2005, violabird from Barnesville, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

I purchased 2 of these plants last fall after an extensive search to find one. I first saw it at the U. of Ga. Research and Education Garden in Griffin, Ga. and was overwhelmed by the lucious banana scent that drifted over the garden during their annual plant sale.

I planted one in the ground, which has done very well this winter, and kept one in a large pot in the basement. Both have the fuzzy brown pods that will become blooms, hopefully next month.

Walter Reeves (our Georgia Gardener) had recently answered a question about location, he suggested a northeast corner would be best.

Update 4-6-06
I absolutely adore this plant, it kept it's leaves all winter (unlike M. Figo) and is blooming now (unlike M. Figo). The scent is more like Ban... read more


On Dec 5, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

I have been looking for a plant of Michelia figo for years, as my Mother grew it in her garden a block and a half from the Gulf of Mexico, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and as a child I loved the banana smell of the small, creamy yellow flowers. So I was really excited when I recently found a Michelia skinneriana, or 'Improved Banana Shrub' at a local nursery near Gainesville Florida, here in zone 8b, although I was disappointed that it wasn't "the real thing"--the plant of my childhood.

Internet research explains that this plant is a new introduction from China that was collected in 1990 from a stream bank of the Jiangxi Province by the staff of the Shanghai Botanic Garden. It first flowered in 1995. The genus Michelia differs from "true" magnolias in having flowers in ... read more