Magnolia Flower Meaning & Symbolism

Wondering about magnolia flower meaning? Then you’ve come to the right place!

The symbolization of magnolias differs across locations, cultures, and colors, but they’re generally associated with nobility, perseverance, and dignity. They also represent purity, joy, love of nature, pride, and confidence.

In this article, I’ll be discussing magnolia flower meanings, occurrences, and characteristics. So keep reading to learn more about these beauties.

What Are Magnolia Flowers?

Magnolia plants are a genus of flowering plants that houses more than 300 species and belongs to the family Magnoliaceae. They’re perennial plants, existing as large or small trees or shrubs.

Magnolia plants produce stunning flowers that look like stars or bowls. Their colors vary from pink, purple, and white, to yellow, red, and green.

Magnolia plants can grow up to 70 to 80 feet tall and reach a width of up to 20 to 40 feet. They love sunny conditions and occur in hardiness zones 6 to 10 USA.

Magnolias can take a decade or two to achieve their full size. They bloom in early spring or even late winter and last through summer.

Magnolias are native to China, Japan, and the United States.

What Do Magnolia Flowers Mean?

Now that you have a better understanding of what magnolia blooms are and where they come from it’s time we dive into the different aspects of magnolia flower meanings.

By color

Magnolias bloom in various colors including white, yellow, pink, purple, red, and green. Let’s discuss the meaning behind each color:

Closeup picture of beautiful white magnolia flower used in article titled Magnolia Flower Meaning

White Magnolias

white is the color of purity and innocence, which is exactly what white magnolias blooms represent. They also symbolize hope, care, perfection, lightheartedness, faith, well wishes, genuineness, and spirituality.

White magnolias are often linked to lunar goddesses, mainly Selene or Artemis. As such, they tend to stand for gentleness and kindness.

White magnolia flowers are the most widespread color worldwide. Examples of white magnolia species are the Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), Sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana), and Siebold’s magnolia (Magnolia sieboldii).

  • Suitable occasions — white magnolias are perfect for wedding arrangements and bridal bouquets. They’re also great for sending a kind message of good wishes and support to a loved one in need, whether it’s a relative who’s been under the weather or a friend who’s been going through a rough time.

Yellow magnolias

Yellow in flowers is typically associated with strength, positive energy, and bright moods. The same goes for yellow magnolias.

Yellow magnolia blossoms represent happiness, joy, cheerfulness, and friendship. They also stand for new beginnings, in the sense that they mark the start of spring after the hardships of winter clear away.

Additionally, yellow magnolias are a symbol of warmth, fun, optimism, and good luck.

Yellow magnolias are often associated with solar goddesses such as Medusa or Sunna. As such, they’re usually linked to delight and friendly affection.

Examples of yellow magnolia species include Magnolia ‘Sunsation’ and Magnolia x brooklynensis ‘Elizabeth’.

  • Suitable occasions — yellow magnolia flowers are an ideal way to show someone how much you care for them. They’re a great “feel good” gift if you want to cheer up a loved one and bring a smile to their face. These golden blossoms can work for birthdays, graduation parties, or pleasant gestures.

Pink magnolias

Pink magnolia blooms are a symbol of youth, femininity, tenderness, and innocence. They can also represent romance, love, and joy. Not to mention, they can add a welcoming vibe to your home.

Pink magnolia flowers are usually linked to love goddesses such as Aphrodite or Venus. As such, their soft, blushing petals are often associated with femininity, affection, and grace.

Examples of pink magnolia species include Star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) and Magnolia × loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’.

  • Suitable occasions — pink magnolia flowers make a great gift to show your love to someone you care about. It’s also perfect for the ladies in your life, whether it’s your mom, sister, significant other, or friend.

Pink magnolia blossoms also look gorgeous in Valentine’s Day or anniversary displays, wedding arrangements, bridal bouquets, and corsages.

An image of some red magnolia flowers

Purple magnolias

Purple is one of the most stunning colors seen on magnolia blooms. Ranging from lighter shades such as lavender to deeper shades such as violet, purple magnolias are a symbol of nobility, pride, dignity, and royalty.

Purple magnolia blossoms can also represent affection, spirituality, extravagance, class, and uniqueness. In some cases, they can even express mystery and confidence.

Purple magnolia flowers are also linked to religion and used in religious ceremonies and rituals in various cultures, so they can represent faith as well. Additionally, these flowers can stand for health and good fortune.

Magnolia “Jane” is one of the most well-known purple magnolia species. Other examples include a few Saucer magnolia varieties such as Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Lennei’.

  • Suitable occasions — purple magnolia flowers are fitting for pretty much any occasion since their meaning can be interpreted in many ways. They are fantastic for formal occasions such as weddings, graduations, business events, and sophisticated dinners.

Purple magnolia blooms can also work for speedy recovery wishes, congratulatory gestures, friendly gestures, and romantic gestures.

Green magnolias

Green in flowers is often a symbol of good luck, fortune, health, and cheer. The same goes for green magnolia blooms.

Examples of green magnolia species aren’t many. The most notable one is the cucumber tree magnolia (Magnolia acuminata).

  • Suitable occasions — green magnolia flowers aren’t typically used for gift giving. But if you do want to go down that road, then they’d be most appropriate for sending well wishes of good health and general success.

Red magnolias

Red in flowers translates into dramatic and deep feelings. With magnolias, it only gets more intense due to the unique shape of the flower.

Red magnolia blooms are a symbol of love, romance, and passionate relationships. They can also represent fiery desire, pleasure, and vitality.

While red magnolias aren’t as common as other colors, they do exist and there are increasing efforts to breed more red varieties. Examples of red magnolia flowers include Magnolia ‘Vulcan’, Magnolia ‘Genie’, and Magnolia liliiflora ‘Nigra’.

  • Suitable occasions — red magnolia flowers are ideal for expressing your romantic love, so they make for fantastic Valentine’s Day, date night, and anniversary gifts.

In the United States

It’s not often that you see a flower possessing such significance in the United States as the magnolia blossom. Its connection with the country is particularly tied to the states of the South more than the North, but it’s beloved all over anyway.

The reason behind this is mainly that magnolias have a higher population in the southern and southeastern states. Out of the 8 species of magnolia plants that are native to the United States, the southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) and the cucumber tree magnolia (Magnolia acuminata) are the most common.

Characterized by its bright white petals and broad green leaves, the southern magnolia is the official state flower of Mississippi and Louisiana. This was declared in 1952 and 1900 respectively, with Mississippi being nicknamed ‘The Magnolia State’.

This eye-catching species can reach up to 80 feet tall and grow up to 40 feet wide. Its blooms can extend up to 1 foot in length, with an elegant vibe resulting from the plant’s low-branching profile.

Thriving in hardiness zones 6 to 10, the fragrant southern magnolia occurs naturally from North Carolina to Florida and Texas. The eastern region of Houston -the most populous city in Texas- is actually home to natural groves containing the graceful flower, which is why it’s also nicknamed the ‘Magnolia City’.

In the southern part of the United States, people widely consider magnolias a symbol of purity, beauty, and nobility. This is why these graceful flowers are commonly featured in bridal bouquets.

In Japan

Japanese culture is rich in connections and associations with elements of nature, especially plants and flowers. The magnolia is one of the blossoms with a remarkable significance throughout the country.

For the people of Japan, magnolia flowers are a representation of nature’s divine beauty and their love for it — a manifestation of nature’s essence or so to speak. They also take it as a symbol of harmony and peaceful living.

The Japanese also consider magnolias to stand for perseverance, dignity, and immortality.

as herbs. All these meanings are based on the Japanese language of flowers referred to as Hanakotoba.

The folks of Japan also value magnolia plants for their medicinal benefits. They use its flowers and bark to alleviate psychological and mental disorders such as anxiety, stress, and depression, as well as treat asthma, headaches, fever, and gastrointestinal disorders.

Additionally, the Japanese rely on magnolia plants for ornamental purposes. The flower is heavily featured in various decorations and accessories.

Among the most common species of magnolia flowers in Japan are the following:

  • Anise magnolia, also known as Magnolia salicifolia, has white petals in the spring that turn golden yellow in the fall. This plant can grow up to 30 feet high and possesses leaves less wide than the average magnolia leaf similar to willow tree leaves, which is where the common name willow-leaf magnolia comes from.
  • Kobushi magnolia or Japanese magnolia, also known as Magnolia kobus, is the most widespread magnolia species in this country. They feature white petals with a pink hue and broad, green leaves.

This slow-growing species gets its name from the Japanese word for fist, “kobushi”, as a tribute to the fist-like shape of the plant’s flower bud.

  • Star Magnolia, scientifically known as Magnolia stellata, is another species native to Japan. It produces pure white blooms that look like twinkling stars.

Featuring delicate buds that are highly sensitive to frost, this large shrub or small tree blossoms in early spring or even late winter. It’s a close relative of the Japanese magnolia and can reach a height of up to 20 feet.

Soft focus image of blossoming magnolia flowers in spring time.

In China

Chinese culture is full of symbolism and implications associated with plants and flowers. One of these is the magnolia blossom, holding a great deal of meaning behind its delicate shape and beautiful colors.

  • Among the most popular species of magnolia flowers in China -which are also native to the country- are Lily magnolia (Magnolia liliiflora/ Mulan magnolia), Magnolia sinica, and Yulan magnolia (Magnolia denudata).

For the people of the country, magnolia flowers represent nobility, purity, and dignity. They can also symbolize a woman’s beauty and gentle nature. Additionally, they can stand for health, wealth, prosperity, and abundance.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the magnolia flower is highly regarded for its medicinal properties. For centuries, the bark and blossoms have been used to treat fever, colds, headaches, asthma, heart diseases, and lung problems, and to alleviate symptoms of dementia. It also has beneficial effects on depression and helps reduce stress and anxiety.

Magnolias are also commonly used as ornamental flowers for decorations and accessories across the country.

Also in China, the Magnolia denudata is the official city flower of Shanghai. It’s one of the many cities in China that celebrate the arrival of spring with the stunning magnolia flower as it blossoms relatively early.

The significance of magnolia flowers dates way back to ancient times in Chinese culture. It was strictly associated with royalty that only Emperors and members of their families were allowed to grow the plant as a way to exclusively grant the Emperor health and wealth.

Nowadays, however, everyone in China can enjoy, own, and cultivate magnolia flowers. The royal and noble status of the bloom is an everlasting heritage nonetheless.

What’s more, the magnolia flower has a notable role in feng shui, an age-old Chinese practice that also goes by the name “Chinese geomancy” and aims to harmonize its practitioners with their surroundings using energy forces. It’s supposed to attract fortune, financial success, tranquility, and restful energy to your life depending on where you plant it.

In North Korea

Also referred to as Oyama magnolia and Korean Mountain magnolia, Siebold’s magnolia is the national flower of North Korea.

Scientifically known as Magnolia sieboldii, this lovely blossom is one of the prettiest species of magnolia, but it also carries a lot of meaning behind its gorgeous appearance.

For the North Korean nation, the magnolia flower is a perfect representation of courage, strength, and pride. It symbolized their determination to overcome times of difficulty and the country’s resilient character.

The correlation couldn’t be more fitting as Siebold’s magnolia is an extremely hardy plant that blooms at the foot of mountains after enduring ice and violent winds.

People in North Korea feature magnolia flowers in many of their ceremonies and celebrations. They value it as part of their identity and heritage.

In Victorian Floriography

During the Victorian era, the popularity of floriography skyrocketed as the activity evolved from being a pastime into something more influential.

Floriography is the language of flowers. It assigns different symbolisms and meanings to various blossoms and plants, allowing people to use them as means of expressing feelings and thoughts.

In the 1800s, there practically wasn’t a Victorian household that didn’t have books or guides that discussed flower language. People enjoyed interpreting the feelings behind flowers that they received and also loved sending their own concealed messages of sentiments that they communicate with words.

As such, the magnolia flower in Victorian floriography represents meanings of nobility, dignity, strength of character, and pride. It’s also a symbol of poise, confidence, and self-respect. It can also serve as a show of one’s love of nature.

Wrap Up On Magnolia Flower Meaning

There you have it, everything you need to know about magnolia flower meanings and symbolization. As you can tell by now, they vary across locations and cultures, but they’re generally associated with nobility, perseverance, dignity, pride, purity, joy, love of nature, and confidence.

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