Botanical Name: Magnolia macrophylla var. ashei, synonyms: Magnolia ashei, Magnolia macrophylla ssp. ashei
Common Name: Ashe’s Magnolia, Ashe Magnolia, Deciduous Magnolia, Dwarf Bigleaf Magnolia
Description: Oh my soul, this is a gorgeous tree or shrub that should be used in our gardens way more often. It’s endemic to only six counties in the Florida Panhandle, meaning that is the only place in the world where it grows naturally. Per the Florida Native Plant Society: ‘This is a very rare species endemic to a few steep-sided ravines and bluffs in the Florida panhandle.’ This species is listed as Endangered in Florida. So if you see it in the wild, please take only pictures.
The leaves on it are huge! They get 1-3′, yes feet!, long and up to a foot at their widest point. They are green on the topside, with a whitish coloring on the underside. It makes a beautiful sight when the breeze is moving them around. Being in the Magnolia family, it, of course, has gorgeous, fragrant flowers that are creamy white. This species’ flowers, however, differ in that they have purple/reddish spots at the base of the petals. The flowers open up cup shaped, then flatten out as they age. The flowers have 6 to 8 petals, with each petal about 6″ long, so the overall bloom is 10-12″ wide. Bloom time is May through June, and the plants bloom at a very young age. The flowers attract all kinds of pollinators including bees and butterflies. Red to purple colored cone-like fruits follow the flowers. It loves being planted in part sun, part shade, or shade in rich, acidic soils. The leaves will burn in too much sun. Their native habitat is slope forest and upland mixed forest. Likes a moist but well drained soil. No flooding. Grows 12 – 25′ tall x 10-15′ wide, is a moderate to fast grower, and is deciduous. Fruits eaten and spread by birds and small mammals.
Not salt tolerant of inundation by salty or brackish water. Low/no tolerance of salty wind or direct salt spray.
Plant Lore: The Garden Club of America named the Ashe Magnolia its 2017 Plant of the Year.
This plant in 3-gallon containers is 1-3′ tall.
This plant in 7-gallon containers is 3-4′ tall.
This plant in 15-gallon containers is 5-6′ tall.
Florida Hardiness Zones 8 – 9