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Tree to 12 m. Bark grey or greyish white. Branchlets slender, glabrous and purplish brown. Leaves deciduous, thin and leathery, 10–15 × 3.5–5 cm, elliptic to obovate, upper surface glabrous, lower surface covered with curly hairs, plus long white hairs on the midrib and veins, 10–13 secondary veins on each side of the midrib, margins entire, apex acute to cuspidate; petiole 0.8–1.3 cm long and pubescent; stipules adnate to the petiole. Flowers terminal and produced before the leaves, pale pink with a darker centre, slightly scented and ~6 cm diameter; peduncle densely hairy. Tepals nine, spathulate or oblanceolate, 5–6.5 cm long; stamens purplish red; gynoecium sessile. Fruits 4–6 cm long and cylindrical, though some carpels may abort causing the fruit to be contorted; ripe carpels oblong, ~1 cm long, woody, tuberculate and dehiscing along a dorsal suture. Flowering April to May, fruiting September to October (China). Chen & Nooteboom 1993, Gardiner 2000, Liu et al. 2004. Distribution CHINA: Anhui, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Zhejiang. Habitat Forests between 200 and 1000 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 5. Conservation status Vulnerable, due to habitat loss and the gathering of firewood and floral buds for medicine. Illustration Liu et al. 2004.
Magnolia amoena is a classic deciduous species, with abundant white and pink flowers appearing in early spring (usually late March in northern Europe). If they avoid frost these go on to produce long red sausage-shaped fruits and a tree may carry literally hundreds of these, presenting another attractive sight in autumn (J. Gallagher, pers. comm. 2007). It has been available as seed from the Shanghai Botanic and Hangzhou Botanical Gardens for many years, but the genetic purity of such material has been questioned (Spongberg 1998). Such seedlings are quite widely cultivated in Europe and North America. In 1994, however, scionwood was sent from Hangzhou Botanical Garden to Dr James Waddick of Kansas City, Missouri, and grafted specimens from this are now grown in North America. It seems to be correctly identified and it is assumed that the parent tree was of wild origin (C. Tubesing, pers. comm. to P. Wharton 2007). Magnolia amoena seems to do well wherever deciduous magnolias thrive. A tree at the Morris Arboretum planted in 1992 was 6 m tall when seen in 2006.