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.

Michelia figo (Lour.) Spreng.

Frost tender, rounded, bushy, freely-branching, evergreen shrub with lustrous, dark green, oval leaves, to 10cm long, and banana-scented, cup-shaped, yellowish-green to white flowers, to 3cm across, with dark red petal margins, in spring and summer. To 6m.  [RHSE, Hortus, Hilliers'].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘This plant was first received from China, by the late Mr. Evans, in 1796, but he very soon lost it.  We had the pleasure of obtaining one from the same country a few years afterwards, which is still flourishing, and from it most of those now in Europe have been derived.  It flowers nearly through the summer, and its delicious fragrance scents the air to a considerable distance.’  [LBC no.1073, 1825].  ‘The Magnolia fuscata is nearly allied to the pumila and is like it cultivated in China, both on account of its beauty and fragrance. […] From its habit, it appears to be a shrub of humble growth, and, on that account, the better adapted to ornament our houses.  Is naturally deciduous, but in the stove becomes ever-green.  It is however by no means tender, and at most requires only the protection of a greenhouse.’  [BM t.1008/1807].  ‘Of all the Magnolias with which we are as yet acquainted, this species is the most elegant; whether for the growth of the plant, the brilliancy of the foliage, or the extreme delicacy, fragrance, and beauty of the flowers.’  [ABR pl. 229, c.1802].

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [T.658/1843].


Published Mar 20, 2009 - 02:39 PM | Last updated Mar 22, 2010 - 05:20 PM

Illustrated are oval leaves and cup-shaped, yellowish flowers with red petal margins.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.1008, 1807.

Michelia figo (Lour.) Spreng. | BM t.1008/1807 | BHL

Family Magnoliaceae
Region of origin


  • Magnolia fuscata Andr.
  • Michelia fuscata Blume
  • Liriodendron figo Lour.
Common Name

Banana shrub

Name in the Camden Park Record

Magnolia fuscata 

Confidence level