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'Coral Lake'

Coral Lake Magnolia

Origin:  A third-generation hybrid between Magnolia ‘Legend’ x Magnolia ‘Butterflies’ that was created by David G. Leach. It was introduced to the market in 1997 by David Leach Research Station at the Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio, United States of America (Dirr, 2009, p. 677; Lobdell, 2020, p. 25).
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Magnolia ‘Coral Lake’ is a unique third-generation cultivar from the North American native, Magnolia acuminata. It is fairly easy to grow, requiring little maintenance except for mulching before winter and pruning any damaged growth (Stonegate Gardens, n.d.). Very few diseases and pests affect this cultivar, with the rare occurrence of Magnolia scale (Weathington, n.d.). Magnolia ‘Coral Lake’ can be trained as a tree or large shrub, and boasts 18 cm upright blooms with shades of coral, pink, and yellow (Stonegate Gardens, n.d.). It blooms mid-spring after the danger of the last frost has passed (Stonegate Gardens, n.d.), making its blooms less prone to frost damage, unlike most deciduous magnolias which bloom in early spring. In addition, the leaves don’t emerge until after the buds open (Stonegate Gardens, n.d.), so there is a striking contrast between the textured silver bark and the large coral-pink flowers. Along with the flowers and bark for spring and winter interest, the leaves become bronze-coloured in autumn and are glossy green in the summer (Stonegate Gardens, n.d.). - Olivia Wiebe

Michael Pascoe, NDP., ODH., CLT., MSc. (Plant Conservation)


'Coral Lake'
Tree (deciduous), Shrub (deciduous)
USDA Hardiness Zone
6a - 1
Canadian Hardiness Zone
5 - 0
RHS Hardiness Zone
Temperature (°C)
Temperature (°F)
6 - 8 m
4 m
Description and Growing Information
Flowering Period
General Description
Magnolia ‘Coral Lake’ is a medium-sized, deciduous tree that has solitary (Dirr, 2009, p. 677) yellow, pink, and coral toned flowers in the late spring (Lobdell, 2020, p. 25). It has shiny green oblanceolate leaves that turn copper in the autumn (Stonegate Gardens, n.d.). Additionally, it has a compact pyramidal form and upright branches (Weathington, n.d.).
It makes an excellent specimen tree due to its beautiful colours, clean form, and late flowering time (Lobdell, 2020, p. 25; Stonegate Gardens, n.d.). They can also be used as a tree or big shrub (Stonegate Gardens, n.d.) in a small garden setting as they should only grow to 7 m tall and 4 m wide over the period of a decade (Weathington, n.d.). With flowers in late spring, deep green leaves in the summer (Stonegate Gardens, n.d) that become bronze-coloured in the autumn (Stonegate Gardens, n.d.) and exposed smooth grey bark in the winter, it offers multi-season interest. It can also be used as a shade tree or an informal hedge because of its large and dense foliage (Stonegate Gardens, n.d.).
It grows best in partial shade to full sun exposure (JC Raulston Arboretum, n.d.; Stonegate Gardens, n.d.) and in well-drained wet soils. It tolerates any pH, however, optimal growth occurs when planted in acidic soils (Stonegate Gardens, n.d.). Very intolerant towards pollution and other urban conditions, it is best planted removed from conditions such as roadside plantings (Stonegate Gardens, n.d.). When planted in unprotected areas or cold microclimates, the roots can be susceptible to cold damage. Mulching a thick layer around the base of the tree’s shallow roots can insulate and maintain the moisture in the (The Morton Arboretum, n.d.) roots during the winter (Stonegate Gardens, n.d.). Pruning is rarely required, but it must be done after the flowering period ends to prevent cutting off any flower buds for that season (Stonegate Gardens, n.d.). It’s not ideal to prune in fall either as the tree has already begun to produce next season’s flower buds.
When young, the tree is short, pyramidal, and almost fastigiate in nature (Weathington, n.d.). As it matures, the trunk elongates and the branches remain upright, creating a pyramidal yet compact shape (Weathington, n.d.;?? Stonegate Gardens, n.d.).
ID Characteristic
The leaves emerge later than most magnolias and are textured, large, and pointed (Stonegate Gardens, n.d.). It has silver bark with large lenticels throughout it and reddish bark on the newer branches (Brown, D. J. G. (March 9, 2016)The Morton Arboretum). It also has long, pointed flower buds that are charcoal grey in colour (Brown, D. J. G. (March 9, 2016). The Morton Arboretum). The blooms are also identifiable as they are yellow, pink, and coral coloured that can reach almost 18 cm in diameter when fully opened, and are fragrant (Weathington, n.d.).
No significant pests frequent this plant, however, it may rarely be affected by Neolecanium cornuparvum (Magnolia Scale), which appears as brown and white fuzzy circular masses that are less than 1 cm in diameter (Weathington, n.d.; The Morton Arboretum, n.d.). If severe, these can be treated with an oil in spring when the larvae hatch (Weathington, n.d.). Deer may also consume the flower buds in specimens where they are in reach (Weathington, n.d.), however, this is uncommon. In addition, it is occasionally affected by verticillium wilt and in highly basic soils, chlorosis (The Morton Arboretum, n.d.).
Horticultural origin.
Bark/Stem Description
The old bark is smooth and silver while the new stems are reddish-brown. The bark and stems are covered in prominent lenticels. The size varies based on age, with the bark around the trunk being thicker than the new stems.
Flower/Leaf Bud Description
The buds are ovate with a rounded base and pointed apex (Brown, D. J. G. (March 9, 2016). The Morton Arboretum). It has one keeled scale (Dirr, 2009, p. 676) and they are charcoal grey in colour. There is no specific size documented, but its first-generation parent, Magnolia acuminata, has terminal buds 2 cm - 4 cm and lateral buds 1 cm in size (Dirr, 676).
Leaf Description
Leaves are simple (The Morton Arboretum, n.d.) and oblanceolate (Beentje H. & Williamson J., 2010) with smooth margins and are glossy green in summer and turn copper in autumn (??Stonegate Gardens, n.d.). They have alternate venation (Beentje H. & Williamson J., 2010) and are angled at the base. Leaf size varies depending on age. Since this is a third-generation hybrid and fairly new to the market, an exact leaf size measurement wasn’t documented in the Morton Arboretum, Holden Arboretum, or the JC Raulston Arboretum.
Flower Description
The blooming period starts later than most Magnolias, usually around April to May, and before the emergence of the leaves (Weathington, n.d.; Lobdell, 2020, p. 25). The blooms are a combination of coral, pink, and yellow in colour with a diameter of 18 cm across (Weathington, n.d.) and 9 tepals in upright form (Dirr, 677). The flowers are perfect and the tree itself is monoecious. These flowers are fragrant and upright in nature. They are pollinated primarily by beetles and flies that are attracted to the showy flowers and aromatic scent, but can also be pollinated by wind (Pankau, 2018; The Morton Arboretum, n.d.).
Fruit Description
Its fruit resembles a cone and is aggregate in structure (The Morton Arboretum, n.d.; Dirr, 2009, p. xxviii). The internal structure consists of the many pistils fused after the ovaries are fertilized as they expand (Dirr, xxvi). As this is a new cultivar, there was no record of its frequency of fruiting or size of fruit on the Morton Arboretum’s website. In Magnolia acuminata, its first-generation parent, it fruits every season when pollinated (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada [COSEWIC], 2010) and is 3 - 8 cm in length (COSEWIC, 2010). For the internal morphology, the aggregate fruit contains seeds with a fleshy coat attached to the follicles (COSEWIC, 2010). When Magnolia ‘Coral Lake’ does fruit, its immature form is green but turns red as it matures (The University of Guelph, n.d.).
Colour Description
The foliage remains green during spring and summer, turns to copper in autumn as the days get shorter and the tree stops photosynthesizing (Stonegate Gardens, n.d.). In addition, the bark remains a silvery grey colour throughout the seasons and the new stem growth is reddish-brown (Stonegate Gardens, n.d.). The fruit is green in its immature state and slowly turns red as it reaches maturity (The University of Guelph, n.d.) and its blooms are a combination of coral, pink, and yellow (Lobdell, M. (2012).The Morton Arboretum.).
Texture Description
It is coarse-textured due to the large leaves from spring to autumn (Stonegate Gardens, n.d.), ovate bud shapes in early spring (??Brown, D. J. G. (March 9, 2016). The Morton Arboretum.), and large showy blooms from mid to late spring (Stonegate Gardens, n.d.).
Notable Specimens
A Magnolia ‘Coral Lake’ specimen can be viewed at the J.C. Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, North Carolina, United States of America (NC State University, n.d.). Also at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle Illinois, United States of America (The Morton Arboretum, n.d.).
Growing from seed is a viable method of propagation. To grow from seed, Magnolia ‘Butterflies’ must be cross-pollinated with Magnolia ‘Legend’ when in bloom (Lobdell, 2020, p. 25). In autumn (The University of Florida, n.d.), once the fruit turns red and the seeds are exposed (Bunting, 2011), they can be harvested. To remove the waxy seed coat, first soak them for 3 days in water and then squeeze them until they slide out (Bunting, 2011). Next, cold-stratify the seeds at 0°C - 5°C for 2 - 4 months in bags of moistened vermiculite to germinate (Bunting, 2011). Or, seeds can be sown outside in the autumn to undergo the stratification process they require for germination (Bunting, 2011). After germination, plant the seedlings after danger of frost, mulch around them, and keep them in partial shade during their first growing season (The University of Florida, n.d.).
Ethnobotanical Uses (Disclaimer)
Since Magnolia ‘Coral Lake’ is a recent cultivar, there aren’t any documented ethnobotanical uses. Its first-generation parent, however, Magnolia acuminata, has several ethnobotanical uses. It is a hardwood tree that produces durable wood that can be used for doors, crates, cabinets, and more (COSEWIC, 2010). It can be predicted that Magnolia ‘Coral Lake’ could share the hardwood trait as it grows at a medium rate (Stonegate Gardens, n.d.).
Stonegate Gardens. (n.d.). Coral lake Magnolia: Magnolia coral lake.,mid%20spring%20before%20the%20leaves.&text=The%20large%20pointy%20leaves%20turn,fruit%20is%20not%20ornamentally%20significant Weathington, M. (n.d.). Magnolias: These top 10 varieties offer a spectrum of color, shape, and form. Fine Gardening,