Magnolia campbellii 'Strybing White'
Scientific name: Magnolia campbellii ‘Strybing White’
Plant type: Perennial tree
Environment: Part shade to sun in moist loam or sandy soil
Bloom: White with drooping tepals, up to 12” in diameter.
Uses: Specimen tree
Moon Viewing Garden – 53H
Rhododendron Garden - 72G
Temperate Asia – 7D
Magnolia campbellii ‘Strybing White’
Magnolia campbellii ‘Strybing White’ is a cultivated variety, or cultivar, of Magnolia campbellii that was first introduced here at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Magnolias have a long history at SFBG as they were of particular interest to the Garden’s first director, Eric Walther. Walther’s interest regarding Magnolias was piqued upon seeing beautiful colored plates of Himalayan Magnolias in Joseph Hooker’s “Illustrations of Himalayan Plants” (1855) and in Curtis’s “Botanical Magazine” (1885).
Seed of Magnolia campbellii arrived from India at the Golden Gate Park Nursery in the 1930s. These seeds were collected from wild stands of Magnolia campbellii in Sikkim in India. Magnolia campbellii can be found growing in the wild in the Himalayas from northern India to central China. In its native range Magnolia campbellii is still an abundant species, though it faces threats from logging. When grown from seed, M. campbellii will typically take between 20 and 25 years to first flower.
Of the trees established from that 1930s seed shipment, multiple were found to have noteworthy aesthetic characteristics and were given cultivar names. One of which was what would become ‘Strybing White’, introduced in 1958 in the “Guide List to Plants of the Strybing Arboretum.” A description of the cultivar would not come until 1961 in Elizabeth McClintock’s article "Magnolia campbellii and Its Variants”. In this article McClintock describes the larger flower size of the ‘Strybing White’ and the outer tepals that droop more than the erect and cuplike tepals of Magnolia campbellii. Like the straight species, which in the wild can be found growing to heights of up to 100 ft, ‘Strybing White’ can grow quite tall, with the most mature one in the Garden standing at about 90 ft.