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Magnolia figo


Magnolia figo (Lour.) DC.

Family Name: Magnoliaceae
Synonyms: Michelia fuscata, Liriodendron figo, Magnolia fuscata, Michelia figo
Common Name: Banana Shrub, Portwine Magnolia, Dwarf Chempaka, Brown-stalked Magnolia, Chinese Tulip Tree, Chempaka Ambon, Pisang-pisang, Kaum Chempaka, 含笑花


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Shrub, Tree (Shrubby (1m-5m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Shrubby
Maximum Height 3 m to 5 m
Maximum Plant Spread / Crown Width 1.8 m to 4.5 m


Native Distribution Southern China
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Monsoon Forest, Riverine)
Preferred Climate Zone Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal

Description and Ethnobotany

Others - Plant Morphology Big woody shrub (about 5m tall and wide), or small compact tree. Crown more open if planted under shady conditions. Leaves glossy, thick, ornamental, darker green if plant is located under full sun.Flower buds enclosed within furry brown bracts. Flowers small (around 4cm across), magolia-like, with creamy-white, waxy petals, strongly fragrant (esp. towards evening), scented like ripe honeydew, bananas or fruity chewing gum.Slow-growing. Suitable as hedge for screening, or can be trained into a standard shrub or free-standing multi-stemmed tree. Prefers fertile, acidic to neutral, well-drained soils with abundant organic matter. Try to grow in final location, as plant is said to dislike transplanting. Propagate by softwood cuttings.Genus epithet 'Magnolia named after Pierre Magnol (1638-1751), French botanist, professor, and director of the Royal Botanic Garden of Montpellier, France. Magnol was one of the innovators of the modern botanical classification in use today, and was the first to publish the concept of plant families based on morphological characteristics. Species epithet 'figo' is Latin for 'attach' or 'fasten down, or Italian for 'fig tree', a probable reference to the plant's fig-like leaves.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Flowers)
Food (Herb and Spice)
[Others]: Flowers used to scent Yulan tea in China. Also harvested for essential oil extraction.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Foliage, Fragrant (Flowers) (Night, Dawn / Dusk, Day)
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Landscape Uses General, Hedge / Screening, Container Planting
Thematic Landscaping Fragrant / Aromatherapy Garden, Naturalistic Garden
SGMP Treatment

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade, Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Slow
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Diseases May be affected by scales which will cause defoliation.
Propagation Method Stem Cutting
Propagation Method Remarks Use softwood cuttings.


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Glossy / Shiny, Thick
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Obovate, Elliptical, Oblong)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Caudate, Obtuse
Foliar Base Cuneate
Typical Foliar Area Notophyll ( 20.25cm2 - 45 cm2 )
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Non Palm) Woody
Bark Colour(s) Greyish brown
Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Tap Root, Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Cream / Off-White, White
Flower Symmetry Radial
Flower Size - Remarks 3.8 cm across, bud 1.5cm across
Flowering Opening Time Night (dusk to dawn)
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Red
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Indehiscent Dry Fruit

Image Repository



Master ID 930
Species ID 2224
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 15 February 2022.