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Tree to 20 m, 0.5 m dbh; multistemmed. Bark grey-white. Branchlets green becoming grey and densely covered with short or long, clear or brown hairs. Leaves evergreen, thin, leathery, (10–)12–20(–24) × 3.5–5.5(–7) cm, narrowly elliptic to obovate, upper surface dark green with scattered clear or brown hairs, lower surface pale green with short, clear or brown hairs except on the midrib, midrib conspicuous below, 11–15 secondary veins on each side of the midrib, margins entire, apex short-acuminate; petiole 1.5–3 cm long without stipule scars; stipules free from petiole and densely covered with short or long, clear or brown hairs. Flowers on axillary shoots 0.5–2.5 cm long, white, fragrant; tepals 9–12, outer three to four tepals obovate to elliptic and 4.5–7 × 2–2.5 cm, the inner tepals narrowly obovate to spathulate becoming gradually smaller; stamens yellowish grey; gynoecium stipitate with 6–14 carpels, hairy. Fruits 5–15 cm long, greenish brown and spicate; ripe carpels dark brown, ovoid to obovoid, smooth or lenticellate, 1–2.5 cm long and beaked; dehiscing along both dorsal and ventral sutures. Flowering March, fruiting September to October (China). Chen & Nooteboom 1993, Liu et al. 2004. Distribution CHINA: Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Sichuan, Yunnan. Habitat Forest between 800 and 1500 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 7b. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration Liu et al. 2004; NT483.
Magnolia cavaleriei is now established in cultivation in both North America and Eur-ope, and has reached flowering size at around 4 m in Oregon (S. Hogan, pers. comm. 2007) and at the JC Raulston Arboretum; the majority of plants, however, are still very young, and it is difficult to comment on its tolerances. It is potentially a neat, small tree with dense foliage and abundant flowers, but the flowers open early, usually in February, and are apt to be damaged by frost (R. Figlar, pers. comm. 2007).