Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Magnolia denudata Desr.

Fully hardy, spreading, deciduous shrub or tree with obovate leaves, to 15cm long, and cup-shaped, pure white flowers, to 15cm across, in spring before the leaves. To 10m by 10m.  [RHSE, Hortus, Hilliers'].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘Native of China, where we are told by the author of the above-quoted memoirs that it forms a pyramidal tree thirty or forty feet high; but with us it hitherto appears only as a straggling shrub, which blossoms freely before it arrives at any considerable size.  The flowers are usually produced singly at the extremities of the branches, and for the most part fall off before the leaves make their appearance; and on this account it is far less agreeable to the eye than the Magnolia grandiflora, whose magnificent blossoms are beautifully contrasted, by being embosomed in large shining leaves.  Two other varieties are said to be known in China, one with pale rose-coloured, and the with double blossoms; but neither has found its way into our gardens, and indeed are extremely rare even in China.  As most deciduous trees are less impatient of cold than those that are evergreen, it is not improbable but that the Magnolia conspicua may bear our winters in the open ground; but our springs are generally too rough to allow us to expect that the blossoms which appear so early in the year will arrive at tolerable perfection without shelter.  Propagated by cuttings or by inarching on some of the more common species.  Flowers in February, March, and April.’  [BM t.1621/1814].

‘A native of China said to have been introduced in 1780, by Sir Joseph Banks, but it was very little known till twenty years afterwards.  It is a beautiful tree, which in its native country attains the height of thirty or forty feet, and will probably grow nearly as large here, being perfectly hardy. Sir Abraham Hume has one now, according to his own account of it (in Mr. Loudon’s interesting Gardener’s Magazine), which is twenty feet high, spreading twenty feet on a wall, and five above it, and has had nine hundred flowers in one season.  It blooms in the month of April, just before the leaves come out: the flowers have a fine delicate fragrance.  It is successfully increased by inarching on the M. purpurea.’  [LBC no.1187/1827].

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [T.665/1843].


Published Mar 24, 2010 - 12:02 PM | Last updated Mar 24, 2010 - 01:44 PM

Figured are elliptic leaf and large,  open cup-shaped pure white flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.1621, 1814.

Magnolia denudata Desr. | BM t.1621/1814 | BHL

Family Magnoliaceae
Region of origin


  • Magnolia yulan Desf.
  • Magnolia conspicua Salisb. 
Common Name

Yulan, Lily tree

Name in the Camden Park Record

Magnolia Yulan 

Confidence level