The beauty of purple Magnolia Lanarth

Magnolia campbellii var. Mollicomata or ‘Lanarth’, shows the full beauty of the purple colour. It’s a different variant of the Magnolia campbellii.

Handling this variant could hold some challenges to the home gardener. The plant has a short life span, as it’s hard to breed and to grow. You can only get flower buds on the branch tip, which come out at the same time. A magnificent view, but very fragile to weather fluctuations. Many don’t consider it as a commercial plant. However, it will give you an awesome view to what seems like a carpet of petals, great for photography lovers.

For a more reliable commercial plant, choose the modern hybrids. Those species can have flower buds on the stem, which bloom sequentially over a longer period.

Planting purple Magnolia Lanarth


The plant may take a couple of years to grow enough to flower, yet the results of this specimen are worth the wait.

You can get one from garden center “Hilliers” in the UK. They have a breed that is cross with M. sargentiana var robusta, which can be mistaken for the original ‘Lanarth’.

“Mark Jury” used the earlier seedlings of this plant to breed a new range of magnolias. he managed to develop new generations such as Athene, Atlas, Iolanthe, Lotus, Milky Way and Serene. Also, it influenced the breeding of Felix Jury, Black Tulip and Honey Tulip magnolias.

The first true ‘Lanarth’ purple magnolia flowered in New Zealand in the 1960s, it was the basis for Fleix’s best collection. The Magnolia ‘Vulcan’ is distinguished with the purple shade turning into reddish shade.

Breeding new magnolias 

Now, New Zealand is the home for the best red magnolia hybrids globally.

Nowadays, the “Lanarth” with the red shades are more popular, and the purple shades fell back. 

Today, there are new breedings for a considerable number of red magnolias. 

Although being a garden-friendly option, the enhancements on the original purple “Lanarth” flower have fallen back. There were some attempts to breed a new purple flower, but neither came as good as the original “Lanarth”.

Origin of “Lanarth”

Plant hunter “George Forrest”, collected the seeds for this plant from southern Yunnan, China in 1924. He collected 3 seeds, in which only one of them germinated. Other seeds that were collected for the Magnolia campbellii var. Mollicomata didn’t flower as well as Georges’ did.

Expected seeding differences occurred, When those seeds were planted at first. However, the “Lanarth” grabbed attention with it’s flower color.

You have to reproduce the Lanarths’ following plants vegetatively, to maintain its distinctive properties. You have to layer, bud or graft the plant.

Which means that every “Lanarth” magnolia has the same genetics as the first plant that they planted in that specific garden. However, it’s not definite that it will come as the original “Lanarth”.


On a side note: Did you know that Magnolia ‘Charles Raffill’ is a cross between the two different species of campbellii; var. campbellii and var mollicomata. So it can be classified as species not a hybrid.


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