Six large white tepals with a pleasant fragrance adorn Wada's Memory magnolia hybrid in early spring. This cultivar is known for blooming at an early age when the distinctive upright growth habit of the lateral branches is most pronounced. With age the lateral branches become more horizontal in habit and the overall shape becomes mounded. The cultivar name honors noted Japanese nurseryman Koichiro Wada.
Members of the genus Magnolia are known for the stunning beauty of their usually large flowers, which emerge prior to the foliage in spring, and are often fragrant. While shades of pink are the most common bloom color, the Magnolia palette also includes white, yellows and purples. Another dominant feature is a prominent fruiting body of small follicles forming a cone-like shape. The species range from small trees to very large trees and shrubs.
Magnolias are an ancient genus that appeared before bees; early pollinators are believed to have been beetles. They are native to eastern and southeastern Asia and eastern North America, Central and South America; most are not hardy in the Chicago region. Buds and blooms of the magnolias that do thrive here are often subject to damage from cold spring nights. The genus includes of 300 species and numerous hybrids and cultivars. The Chicago Botanic Garden's collection includes almost 60 varieties of magnolia and more than 150 plants.