Magnolia sinica is one of the most threatened magnolia species in the world. Thought at one time to be reduced to just 10 wild trees, searches conducted with the support of the Global Trees Campaign have estimated the wild population at around 50 trees, all in southern Yunnan Province.
The tree is popular as an ornamental plant due to its large, white or reddish fragrant flowers and glossy, deep-green leaves. It can reach up to 40 m high with a straight trunk, dense branches and a broad crown. In the wild, it is found in broad-leaved forests at altitudes of 1300-1500m.
As well as destruction of its habitat for agriculture, its straight trunk means that in the past it has been logged for timber. Over-collection of the seeds for horticulture is also believed to threaten the natural regeneration of the species. The survival of seedlings may be inhibited by invasive plants covering the forest floor.
The largest known population is protected within Xiaoqiaogou National Nature Reserve (NNR), but other individuals that are scattered in the countryside are still at risk.
The Global Trees Campaign has been involved in the conservation and restoration of Magnolia sinica since 2005, and it has become something of a cause celebre amongst plant conservationists in China. Although extremely rare in the wild, seedlings were available in nurseries, and the Global Trees Campaign has worked with local partners (including the Kunming Institute of Botany) to reinforce the wild population within Xiaoqiaogou NNR. 400 seedlings have been planted into the reserve and are being cared for by reserve staff.
The Global Trees Campaign has also supported improved management of the wild trees at Xiaoqiaogou, for example, removing invasive plants from the forest floor to try to increase seedling survival. Awareness-raising activities have taken place in surrounding communities to increase local pride in this very special tree.
The Global Trees Campaign is providing on-going technical support for conservation of M. sinica through a project carrying out tree conservation training in southern China.
Did you know?
Nearly half of the world’s 245 magnolia species are threatened with extinction.