Campbell’s Magnolia

Campbell’s Magnolia

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Scientific Name:
Magnolia campbellii ‘Charles Raffill’
Edinburgh, E30 Map
Adopted, available Feb 2023

Considered one of the finest of all magnolias, Magnolia campbellii is a medium to large-sized deciduous tree, growing to 30 m. This tree produces a wonderful spectacle in early spring, as its huge flowers emerge and blanket the tree in shades of vivid crimson and white. Native to the Himalayas, from eastern Nepal to Myanmar and China at altitudes of 2,500-3,000 m, Magnolia campbellii is mainly grown for its ornamental value.

The tree was introduced in 1848 by Joseph Hooker, who later became director of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. It was named by Hooker after his friend Dr. Archibald Campbell, Political Resident at Darjeeling, India, as a result of an eventful expedition they took through the eastern Himalayas. On this, as part of a diplomatic wrangle, the men were temporarily imprisoned by the local ruler, the Diwan of Sikkim. Despite the mountain origins of the species, when grown in UK its early flowering renders it relatively sensitive to frost. Until recently cultivation of this magnolia was limited to sheltered southern regions, but the past few decades have seen it gain a more widespread presence.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)