- Broadleaf deciduous tree, slender, multi-branched to 15 to 20 ft (4.5-6 m) tall and 6 to 10 ft (1.8-3 m) wide. Medium green leaves 15 by 10 cm Flowers are a deep burgundy, tulip shape, 15 cm across, appear before the leaves. Reportedly young trees may produce paler flowers.
- Sun to light shade.
- Hardy to USDA Zone 5 Black Tulip™ is a Jury Hybrid and is sometimes listed as a selection of Magnolia x soulangiana, but its background is more complex than that. It is the result of a cross, made by Mark Jury, of ‘Vulcan’ as the seed parent and possibly ‘Iolanthe’ as the pollen parent (Gardiner, 2000). The background of these parents includes a number of Magnolia species. The Tikorangi website states that if you line up a Black Tulip™ flower beside a good ‘Vulcan’ flower, there is not much difference in color. What makes Black Tulip™ appear so dark on the tree is that the petals (or, more correctly, tepals) are so thick that no light can shine through. The cultivar name of Black Tulip™ is ‘Jurmag1’.
- Oregon State Univ. campus: two in front of Weatherford Hall, planted 2008
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Magnolia ‘Black Tulip’ a showpiece
Did you know?
Dr. John Grimshaw notes, in his excellent book “The Gardener’s Atlas” (Firefly Press 2002): “Magnolias are among the most primitive of flowering plants; fossils have been found in rocks from the Cretaceous Period (144 million to 65 million years ago). Their simple shape, thick petals and rigid anthers, together with a powerful scent, are adapted to pollination by beetles, whose blundering flight may be similar to that of the earliest insects.”
The popular M. x soulangeana hybrids are named in honor of the French Chevalier Etienne Soulange-Bodin, director of the Royal Institute of Horticulture near Paris. Under his watch in the 1820s, M. denudata was crossed with M. liliflora, combining the refined shape and fragrance of the former with the color and later flowering aspects of the latter.
Colorful tulip trees
Besides ‘Black Tulip,’ consider choosing the popular Magnolia x ‘Vulcan’ (M.campbellii ‘Lanarth’ x M. liliflora). It features brilliant ruby-red saucer-shaped flowers that appear on young trees. Measuring only 15 feet high and 10 feet wide, it too can find a home in a smaller area. Or choose M. liliflora ‘Nigra,’ a shrubby variety to 8 feet high and 6 feet wide that features lily-shaped flowers, purplish-red on the outside and pink inside.
Not into reds & pinks?
Grow in fertile, well-drained neutral to lightly acidic soil in full sun. Protect young trees from freezes or heavy frosts. Water regularly for the first year to establish, then cut back to deep watering once a week in years two and three. Established trees become more tolerant of drier periods but will still require periodic water during our dry summers. Magnolias are very hardy trees, suitable for most USDA Zones 5-9. Minimal pruning is required, mainly to remove interior crossing branches.
Pests & diseases
Bacterial leaf spot, canker and powdery mildew can afflict trees. Insects such as snails, scale and thrips can cause damage. There are nonchemical treatments for each of these problems.
Magnolia ‘Black Tulip’ can be found at East Bay Nursery in Berkeley and at Grand Lake Ace Garden Center in Oakland. Other beautiful magnolias can be found at your local nursery.