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Magnolia vs Cherry Blossom: 6 Key Differences

Magnolia and Cherry Blossom trees are both popular for their stunning blooms, but they exhibit distinct characteristics that set them apart. Today, we’ll explore these differences to understand which tree might be the best choice for different settings.

One key difference is in their floral structure and presentation. Cherry blossoms typically feature five petals and grow in clusters, creating a cloud-like effect. In contrast, magnolias boast a greater number of petals per flower and tend to bloom as solitary, more prominent blossoms. Additionally, variations in tree shape and size between the two species further differentiate them.

Magnolia Tree vs Cherry Blossom

Magnolia Tree vs Cherry Blossom

They have different flowers

Magnolia and Cherry Blossom flowers display distinct differences in size, structure, and overall appearance. Magnolia blooms are notably larger, reaching up to 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter, with each petal measuring 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) in length.

Unlike the profuse petals of Cherry Blossoms, Magnolias have fewer petals. Each Magnolia flower, resembling a water lily, grows individually and features a yellow pistil and stamen at its center, enhancing its beauty.

Conversely, Cherry Blossom flowers are smaller, generally not exceeding 1-1.5 inches (2-3 cm). Their centers are less visible, making them appear less pronounced compared to the striking magnolias. Yet, Cherry Blossoms compensate for their smaller size by blooming in clusters, creating a lush, splendid display on the tree. Some Cherry Blossom varieties boast over a hundred petals per flower.

This contrast in flowering styles leads to different visual impacts. Cherry Blossoms, with their numerous but less conspicuous flowers, create an effect akin to a tree covered in snow during their blooming season. While each individual flower may be less striking, the collective impact is remarkable, offering a unique and breathtaking spectacle.

Magnolia has a wider range of colors

Magnolia flowers exhibit a wider range of colors and typically show more intense hues compared to Cherry Blossoms. An exemplary variety is the Magnolia ‘Black Tulip’, known for its dark purple, almost burgundy color. This variety, with its wide and short petals, resembles a tulip or rose in shape.

In contrast, Cherry Blossoms primarily display pink shades. Varieties like Yoshino are known for their delicate light pink blossoms, while others like Kwanzan or Kanhizakura feature more vivid pink petals. There are also Cherry Blossom varieties with white flowers, such as Ukon. However, the spectrum of colors found in Cherry Blossoms is more limited.

This comparison underscores Magnolia’s superiority in terms of color variety. Cherry Blossoms, while beautiful in their own right, do not offer the same breadth of color options as Magnolias.

Cherry Blossom has almost no odor

Cherry Blossoms are known for their subtle fragrance, which is often barely detectable. Bringing a Cherry Blossom flower close to the nose might reveal just a faint aroma. The scent becomes slightly more perceptible only when there are numerous Cherry Blossom trees in close proximity, yet it remains delicate and not easily distinguishable.

In stark contrast, Magnolia flowers are renowned for their strong fragrance. A notable example is the Magnolia champaca, distinguished by its potent aroma that can be sensed from a considerable distance. This variety, also known as the Joy Perfume Tree, is used in the production of high-end perfumes due to its intense and appealing scent.

For those who appreciate flowers with a noticeable fragrance, Magnolias are a clear choice over Cherry Blossoms. The aromatic presence of Magnolia flowers is significantly more pronounced, making them ideal for adding both visual and olfactory appeal to a garden or landscape.

Magnolia is a hardier

Cherry Blossoms are suitable for growth in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 8, with some varieties adaptable to the warmer conditions of zone 9. This adaptability makes them a viable option for cultivation in much of the United States.

Magnolias, however, demonstrate a broader range of climate tolerance. The Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata), known for its frost resistance, can thrive in zones 4-8, making it suitable for the northern regions of the U.S. For hotter climates, such as those found in the southern United States, the Champaca Magnolia is ideal, withstanding the heat of zones 10-12.

Overall, Magnolias offer greater hardiness compared to Cherry Blossoms. Their diverse range includes varieties that can flourish in the warm climates of states like Florida as well as endure the harsh winters of Minnesota, providing a wide range of options for gardeners across different climatic zones.

They have different sizes and shapes

Cherry Blossom trees and Magnolias differ significantly in their size and shape. Cherry Blossoms can grow up to 50 feet (15 meters) in height with a slightly lesser width, featuring a classic tree silhouette with a central trunk and lateral branches. Their canopies often match the height, providing a balanced appearance. Typically, Cherry Blossoms don’t grow in bush or columnar forms.

Magnolias, on the other hand, display more diverse shapes and sizes, ranging from dwarf to giant varieties. For instance, the Magnolia grandiflora has a pyramidal structure, reaching up to 20 feet in width and surpassing 70 feet in height. Another example, Magnolia virginiana, can grow to a remarkable height of 100 feet.

A unique aspect of Cherry Blossoms is the weeping form, as seen in Prunus pendula (Weeping Cherry), which boasts a striking and enchanting appearance in spring. This weeping characteristic is something currently not found in Magnolia varieties.

Magnolia and Cherry Blossom have different foliage

Magnolia leaves are typically larger and more decorative than those of Cherry Blossoms. In some Magnolia species, leaves can grow as large as 10 inches (25 cm) in length and 8 inches (20 cm) in width.

Additionally, many Magnolias feature a distinctive double-hued foliage, with a glossy green top and a contrasting brown underside, as exemplified by the Little Gem Magnolia. This dual-tone aspect enhances their ornamental appeal compared to Cherry Blossoms.

Another advantage of Magnolias is their variety in foliage types, with both deciduous and evergreen species. The Southern Magnolia and Champaca Magnolia, for instance, are evergreen, maintaining their foliage throughout the year, including winter.

In contrast, Cherry Blossom leaves are generally smaller, around 2-3 inches in size, and less noticeable from a distance. While predominantly green, some Cherry Blossom varieties do have dark burgundy leaves, adding a degree of ornamental value. However, almost all Cherry Blossoms are deciduous, shedding their leaves annually.

Overall, the leaves of Magnolias are considered more decorative, giving them an edge over Cherry Blossoms in terms of foliage appeal.