Trees or shrubs , deciduous or evergreen, aromatic. Pith homogeneous or diaphragmed. Leaves alternate, simple, petiolate; stipules early or tardily deciduous, at first surrounding stem, adnate on adaxial side of petiole (free in Magnolia grandiflora ), often ochreate, leaving persistent annular scar around node. Leaf blade pinnately veined, unlobed (or evenly 2-10-lobed in Liriodendron ), margins entire. Inflorescences terminal, solitary flowers (often paired in Magnolia ashei ), pedunculate; spathaceous bracts 2 (Magnolia ) or 1 (Liriodendron ). Flowers: perianth hypogynous, segments imbricate; tepals deciduous, 6-18, in 3 or more whorls of 3, ± similar or outer tepals sepaloid, inner tepals petaloid; stamens numerous, hypogynous, free, spirally arranged; filaments very short to 1/2 length of anthers; anthers introrse, latrorse, or extrorse, longitudinally dehiscent; connective with distal appendage; pistils numerous, superior, spirally arranged on elongate receptacle (torus), stalked or sessile, free or ±concrescent, 1-locular; placentation marginal, placenta 1; ovules 1-2; style 1, short and recurved (Magnolia ) or large and winglike (Liriodendron ); stigma 1, terminal or terminal decurrent (Magnolia ) or recurved (Liriodendron ). Fruits conelike syncarps consisting of aggregates of coalescent, woody follicles (follicetums, as in Magnolia ) or apocarps consisting of aggregates of indehiscent samaras (samaracetums, as in Liriodendron ). Seeds 1-2 per pistil, arillate, endosperm oily (Magnolia ), or without aril, adherent to dry endocarp ( Liriodendron ).
Trees or shrubs, evergreen or deciduous, usually with perfect flowers, rarely dioecious, monoecious, or andro-dioecious, usually with trichomes or rarely glabrous. Vegetative buds enclosed by hooded stipules. Stipules 2, connate and adnate to or free from petiole, splitting and caducous but with a remaining annular scar on twig or if adnate to petiole with scar on petiole. Leaves simple, spirally arranged, rarely distichous, sometimes fascicled on twig apex and becoming pseudoverticillate, petiolate; leaf blade pinnately veined, margin entire or rarely lobed. Flowers terminal or terminal on axillary brachyblasts, solitary, large, insect pollinated. Spathaceous bracts 1 to several, basal to tepals. Tepals 6-9(-45), in 2 to many whorls, 3(-6) per whorl, usually fleshy, sometimes outer ones (perules) nearly leathery or reduced and sepal-like. Carpels and stamens many, distinct, spirally arranged on an elongated torus. Androecium usually at basal part of torus; filaments thick and short, sometimes elongated; connective usually exserted and forming a long or short tip; anthers linear, with 2 thecae, introrsely, laterally, or rarely extrorsely longitudinally dehiscing. Gynoecium at apical part of torus, sessile or with a gynophore; carpels folded, usually distinct, sometimes connate at base or rarely completely connate; ovules 2-14 per carpel, in 2 series on ventral sutures. Fruit apocarpous or sometimes syncarpous; mature carpels usually dehiscing along dorsal and/or ventral sutures, rarely connate and irregularly dehiscing or (in Liriodendron) indehiscent, samaroid, and adnate to seed endotesta. Seeds 1-12 per fruiting carpel, pendulous on a filiform elastic funiculus, exserted from mature carpels; testa fleshy, red; endotesta bony; embryo minute; endosperm copious, oily.
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