Description from Flora of China
Liriodendron figo Loureiro, Fl. Cochinch. 1: 347. 1790; Liriopsis fuscata (Andrews) Spach; Magnolia annonifolia Salisbury; M. figo (Loureiro) Candolle; M. fuscata Andrews; M. fuscata var. annonifolia (Salisbury) Candolle; M. fuscata var. hebeclada Candolle; M. fuscata var. parviflora (Blume) Steudel; M. parviflora Blume; M. parvifolia Candolle; Michelia fuscata (Andrews) Blume; M. parviflora Delessert (1821), not Rumphius ex Candolle (1817); Sampacca parviflora Kuntze.
Shrubs, 2-3 m tall. Bark grayish brown. Twigs and leaves dense. Young twigs, buds, petioles, and brachyblasts densely yellowish brown tomentose. Stipular scar reaching petiole apex. Petiole 2-4 mm; leaf blade narrowly elliptic to obovate-elliptic, 4-10 × 1.8-4.5 cm, abaxially midvein with brown appressed trichomes but other parts glabrescent, adaxially glossy and glabrous, base cuneate to broadly cuneate, apex obtusely acute. Flowers 1.2-2 × 0.6-1.1 cm, erect, sweetly fragrant. Tepals 6, pale yellow but margin sometimes red to purple, long elliptic, 1.2-2 × 0.6-1.1 cm, fleshy and thick. Stamens 7-8 mm; connective exserted and forming a sharp tip. Gynophore ca. 6 mm, pale yellow tomentose; gynoecium ca. 7 mm, exceeding androecium, glabrous. Fruit 2-3.5 cm; mature carpels ovoid to globose, apex with a mucronate beak. Fl. Mar-May, fr. Jul-Aug. 2n = 38*.
This species is grown as an ornamental and used medicinally. It is cultivated in most other tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate regions of the world.
Loureiro published Liriodendron figo based on a plant cultivated in Macao. Although the type was probably destroyed, the plant today identified as Michelia figo is identical with Loureiro’s description.
● Cultivated throughout most of S China and probably originated in cultivation.