Magnoliaceae Juss.

This family is accepted.


Every, J.L.R. & Baracat, A. (2009). Neotropical Magnoliaceae.


Evergreen trees or shrubs, occasionally with indumentum of simple hairs, stipules large, enveloping apical bud , caducous , leaving scars around nodes. Leaves alternate , spirally arranged, simple , petiolate , entire , occasionally lobed (Liriodendron L.).  Flowers terminal , solitary, large deciduous ensheathing bracts leaving scars, actinomorphic , hermaphrodite , very rarely unisexual, showy, pedicellate; tepals numerous, petaloid , free , primarily spirally arranged in groups of three, sometimes outer whorl sepaloid; stamens numerous, free , spirally arranged on either side of enlarged receptacle , longitudinally dehiscent ; gynoecium apocarpous, ovaries superior , spirally arranged centrally above enlarged receptacle , numerous, rarely reduced to one, ovules usually two, style simple , terminal Fruit follicles (samaras in Liriodendron), woody , dehiscent Seed one or two, red fleshy exotesta, funicle long.

Distribution in the Neotropics
  • Ca. 60 native species of Magnoliasensu lato. 
  • They are mainly Mexican, Brazilian and Caribbean, but also occur in Bolivia, Colombia, the Guianas, Peru and Venezuela.
Distinguishing characters (always present)
  • Alternate, simple leaves.
  • Large deciduous furry stipules that leave scars around young branches.
  • Large eccentric, solitary flowers.
  • Swollen receptacle hosting numerous spirally arranged reproductive parts.
Other important characters
  • Entire leaf margin (lobed in Liriodendron L.) generally glaucous below.
  • Hermaphrodite flowers.
  • Indistinguishable petals and sepals.
  • Short filaments.
  • Anthers undifferentiated from filaments.
  • Aggregated follicles make up the fruit structure (samaras in Liriodendron).
  • Brightly coloured seed (except in Liriodendron).
Key differences from similar families

The families below differ from Magnoliaceae in the following characters:

  • Myristicaceae: connate filaments, seeds arillate with reddish exudate in trunk, unisexual flowers
  • Annonaceae: exstipulate, perianth of sepals and petals.
Notable genera and distinguishing features
  • See above.
General Description
General notes

Magnoliaceae has been considered the most primitive angiosperm family due to many different reasons such as:

  • Spirally arranged and numerous flowers parts (no sign of a reduction in parts).
  • Indistinguishable perianth parts.
  • Radially symmetrical flower.
  • Cone-like appearance of the fruiting structure.
  • Its similarity with the known fossil records.
Notes on delimitation
  • Magnoliaceae sits very comfortably within the Magnoliales between Myristicaceae and Degeneriaceae along with Annonaceae, Eupomatiaceae and Himantandraceae.
Number of genera
  • In this treatment we recognize two Neotropical genera: Magnolia L. and Liriodendron
  • Magnolia sensu lato (including Talauma Juss. and Dugandiodendron Lozano) is native to the Neotropics.
  • Cultivated species of both Magnolia and Liriodendron can be found throughout the Neotropics for ornamental and commercial use.
Important literature

Kawasaki, M.L. 2004.  Magnoliaceae. In: N. Smith, S. A. Mori, A. Henderson, D. W. Stevenson and S. V. Heald (eds.). Flowering Plants of the Neotropics, pp. 226-227. New York Botanical Garden & Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Lozano-C.,G. 1983.  Magnoliaceae. In: Pinto, P. (ed.). Flora de Colombia vol 1. Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogota.

Nooteboom, H.P. 1993.  Magnoliaceae In: K. Kubitzki, J.G. Rohwer and V. Bittrich (eds.). Families and genera of vascular plants volume 2, pp. 391-401. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Pennington, T.D. 2004.  Illustrated guide to the trees of Peru, p.160-1. David Hunt Milbourne Port Sherbourne.

Stevens, P.F. 2008.  Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 9 onwards.

Magnoliaceae Juss. appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Gen. Pl. [Jussieu] 280. 1789 [4 Aug 1789] (1789)

Accepted by

  • APG IV (2016)

  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

  • Neotropikey

    Milliken, W., Klitgard, B. and Baracat, A. (2009 onwards), Neotropikey - Interactive key and information resources for flowering plants of the Neotropics.