Magnolia Grandiflora ‘Little Gem’

Magnolia Grandiflora ‘Little Gem’


Magnolia Grandiflora as a species but more specifically ‘Little Gem’ where I can find the information. I have one growing in my yard with lots around the town used as hedging plants and ornamental plant.


Average expected life of tree, in years, from sprout to death (approx. numbers)

80-120 years for Magnolia. There appears to be limited information about Little Gem life expectancy however dwarf trees usually last considerably less generally 25-50years. The year range varied across websites for Little Gem with some sites stating 30-40 years others up to 70 years.


Years until trees first fruit (ie some trees fruit within a few years, others can take decades)

Magnolias can produce seed by 10 years of age although peak production is achieved closer to 25 years of age.

Little Gems are much quicker and with produce flowers and fruit at two to three years with peak production around 7-10 years.


Season of year when productive tree fruits (ie Summer, Autumn, Winter Spring or combo ie Su/Au)

Flowering time for Little Gem is Spring and Summer.

Fruiting occurs Autumn through to late autumn.


Expected or average number years tree expected to fruit for once it begins. (ie year 8 to 20 = 12 yrs)

Not a lot of information but from what I can gather once it begins to fruit it will continue to fruit for the remainder of its life whilst healthy.


Country/area of origin

Magnolia is the evergreen species found in South Eastern United States. There are also other Magnolias found throughout south-east Asia.


Average annual rainfall in area of origin

Approximately 50 inches in United States for Little Gem.


Latin name of tree and family

Common name: Dwarf Magnolia, Southern Magnolia

Botanic Name: Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’

Family: Magnoliaceae


Any other products, benefits, useful or interesting facts about tree:


Magnoliodeae has approximately 210 flowering species named after the French botanist Pierre Magnol.

Little Gem was developed by Warren Steed at Steed’s Nursery in Candor in North Carolina with only slightly smaller flowers than larger relative.


Very hardy tree once established tolerates some flooding, moderate drought, good heat tolerance, mild frosts and neglect. However needs protection from very hot or cold winds and harsh western sun. Will tolerate some shading though as ages requires more sunlight.

Needs to be placed in a sunny location, fertile, deep and well-drained soil rich in organic matter but clear from grass due to the shallow roots. Magnolias are relatively insect and disease free.


Magnolias are among the earliest species in the world with some fossils dating back to 100 million years ago. It is thought that they existed before bees so rely on beetles for pollination. Flowers produce large quantities of pollen that beetles use for food. Flowers are actually composed of tepals. A magnolia flower is said to be perfect or bisexual, meaning it has both a functional male stamen and a female pistil. Bees and other browsing insects transfer pollen from the stamen to the pistil of a single flower


Magnolias used to be used as a wood source in the USA. They are fairly hard and straight-grained, moderately stiff, high in shock resistance, low in shrinkage and has average nail-holding ability. It stays in place well when properly seasoned, is readily worked, glues satisfactorily, and takes paint, stains, and natural finishes well, but has only moderate to low durability if used under conditions favourable to decay.

Magnolias are also fire resistant due to bark characteristics. Is recommended on some Australian websites to be used as a fire-retardant tree.


In Eastern Medicine Magnolia trees and more specifically their bark and flowers have been used for abdominal pain, bloating and gas, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, amoebic dysentery, asthma and coughs with acute phlegm, bronchitis, colds, colic, diarrhoea, digestive disorders, dysentery, gas, gastro-enteritis, indigestion, intestinal problems, weight loss, loss of appetite, malaria, menstrual cramps, nausea, rheumatism, typhoid, ulcers, vomiting.


In England Magnolia flowers and fruit have been used for pickling and the flowers as a vinegar pickle.


Southern Magnolia is used as a specimen plant, street tree, shade tree, screen or windbreak. This tree also can be grown as an espalier.


Height, width and shape of tree at maturity.


Little Gem is a broad-leaved evergreen producing a symmetrical, dense canopy composed of dark green, leathery leaves with a bronze underside. It also produces medium sized creamy white perfumed flowers in Spring and summer.

It grows in a oval shape to 5 metres in height and up to 3m in width, though some sites claim 6-10 metres in height.

Has thick twigs and resistant to breakage however the bark is thin and damaged easily.

Single trunk up to 15cms in diameter at breast height.

Has a wide but shallow root system which is four times width of canopy.

Fruit are bright red or brown and hang from a semi-woody cone-like structure.


Challenges or special requirements, such as needing other varieties in order to fruit


Require deep soaking every month during long dry spells. Hot northerly winds can dry and crack leaves.


Roots don’t like disturbance and are damaged easily by walking around the base or competing with grass.


Can be subject to leaf spots, blights, scabs and black mildews but rarely require chemical control.

Canker disease can kill the brunches but can be pruned out.

Verticillium Wilt and other fungal issues.


All round quite a hardy plant but require extra watering in dry spells.





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