Differs from M. fordiana as follows: branchlets yellowish brown (vs. reddish brown), leaf apex caudate to acuminate (vs. acute), peduncle 1.5–2 cm long (vs. 0.5–1 cm), outer tepals greenish, 3.5–4 × 1.8–2 cm (vs. white, 6–7 × 3–4 cm). In addition, M. yuyuanensis is completely glabrous. (Kumar 2006).
Distribution China Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Hunan, Jiangxi, Zhejiang
Habitat Rich mesic slopes, 700–1200 m.
USDA Hardiness Zone 7-9
RHS Hardiness Rating H4
Conservation status Data deficient (DD)
Taxonomic note Magnolia yuyuanensis was treated as synonymous with M. fordiana var. fordiana by Chen & Nooteboom (1993) and Xia, Liu & Nooteboom (2008). However, Kumar (2006) resurrected the species, which we accept following Plants of the World Online (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 2021) and Magnolia Society International (Figlar 2012).
This member of Section Manglietia is established in cultivation throughout the temperate world. Specimens in collections remain rather scarce, and many are labelled M. fordiana. Closely related to that species, it has a more easterly wild range (interestingly it has almost the same distribution and altitudinal range as M. cylindrica). It seems hardier and generally more amenable to cultivation in our area than is M. fordiana..
M. yuyuanensis has been grown both as a shapely specimen tree and as a hedge, flowering freely once it begins. Although beautiful, with white tepals and purple anthers, the flowers are short-lived, each lasting only 36 hours and have only a weak fragrance, but they are produced over several weeks in high summer and do give a good visual display (Wharton 2007). In Vancouver, BC it sheds snow effectively, unlike M. fordiana. The rather narrow, boat-shaped leaves with pointed tips are distinctive, while the rounded, compact fruits have the appearance of enormous strawberries.
The origins of the oldest trees in cultivation are unclear. An early specimen, now a shapely tree which flowers regularly and freely, was given to the David C. Lam Asian Garden in Vancouver in 1989 by J.C. Raulston; it performs there far better than M. fordiana (Wharton 2007). Several plants were planted as a hedge at the JC Raulston Arboretum, NC, with the intention of producing propagating material (Weathington 2011): these too flower freely, beginning when under 1 m high (S. Hogan in Grimshaw & Bayton 2009).
In Europe, it has been grown since 1983 at the Hillier Gardens in southern England, initially as M. fordiana (A. Coombes in Grimshaw & Bayton 2009). The tallest example there had reached 7.5 m × 30 cm in 2011 (The Tree Register 2021). A plant obtained from New Zealand is growing well at Tregrehan, Cornwall (9 m × 41 cm, 2014 – The Tree Register 2021), while a 1991 accession from Hangzhou Botanic Garden is recorded at Meise Botanic Garden, Belgium (Plantcol 2021).
While it has been offered commercially in a small way, cuttings seem difficult to root. Some success has been achieved using extremely high levels of KIBA rooting hormone (Weathington 2013).