confused about michelia alba name

fragrantgardener01February 5, 2007


I am confused about about the difference between Michelia Alba, Michelia Champaka Alba, and Michelia x Alba. Can someone tell me whether they all mean the same plant or three different plants?


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longriver(SF Bay Area)

I am not a botanist. However I love to grow the fragrant plants, a total about 20 plants in different size. Besides for years I have been donating quite a few plants to my relatives and close friends.I am trying to use different ways to explain the naming confusing, only based on my personal reference.

1. If you check web site of Wikipedia, a free encyclopedia. It lists 50 different Michelia species. Formally classified only two distinct species names as: M. alba and M. champaca or champak. Behind the name of M. alba. There is a common name called white champaca.
2. It is my childhood as well as my grow-up personal experience in Southeast of Asia. At northern part from Yunnan, Guandong, Guanxi,--- and Taiwan Provinces of China, only white flower of M. alba can be found in the wild habitat and in commercial nursery. No yellow! My college friend from Thailand mentioning to me that mostly creamy orange flower can be found in the general region of their home country habitat . They just call it champaca. The yellow flower M. champaca region should cover portion of India and Indonesia---. There must be a mixed region that both yellow and white flower plants can be found. To the people of southern areas, if they look at the identical fragrant flower, they would call it M. champaca alba or white champaca.
3. M. Champaca can set seeds very easy. I have harvested over one hundred very small seeds this year, see attched picture of seeds and the seed pod clusters.
4. Michelia X alba does not represent a real name. It is possible an indication of open pollination seedling plant. I am doing plant breeding as hobby. The seedling cross is labelled as: Mother plant X Pollen plant-5-1. Referening # 1 plant of a total of five pot mates, of the same known parentage. This is my own interpretation. I saw many M. seedling plants for sale in SF area many years ago. They looked much like M. champaka, but very hard to set flower.

If there is a real trained expert has different opinion and corrects my misunderstanding, I am gald to take note and appreciate the advice.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 5, 2007 at 4:12AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Names are confusing. The 'X' indicates a hybrid cross. In this case, this plant is a true hybrid of M. champaka and M. montana, resulting in the name Michelia X 'alba'. There are countless improperly named seedling cultivars and true cultivars out there, all decendants (more or less) from the original cross. The true hybrid plants need to be vegetatively propagated in order to be genetically identical to M. X 'alba'.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 1:21PM
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longriver(SF Bay Area)

rhizo 1:

Thanks for your input. I am not that postive about the origin of M. X alba. If we want identical plant. vegitative propagation is the only way. This special name is not formally classified in the reference. So I do not want go into an unknown area. Some michelia can be very fertile to set seed. It is possible a seedling plant produced by wild or artificial pollination. Another fact is that a few nurseriers love to put a semi-special name, possible due to slightly variation or an acclaimed merit. I am not going to worry too much about it.

I was in Taiwan three years ago and saw a tray of jumbo size M. alba flowers. I am still puzzling whether it is a new cultivar or well grown flowers.

I know that my M. champaca is very desirable one due to the flowering ability and fragrance quality. At least in my house, I prefer the fragrance of my Champaca. I need to make a few approaching grafts this year.

All my michelia plants suffered freeze damage. All leaves are gone. I think and I hope they will be back.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 11:21PM
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I have had Michelia Alba, and Michelia Champak for the past 3 yrs and planted them in the ground. I protect them during the winter by covering the ground and wrapping the plant nicley with plastic sheet, I saw the Alba bloom the year I bought and only couple of flowers and it hasn't bloomed since then, please tell me what I need to do for it to bloom. I also have Michelia Figo in the ground and it blooms regularly and especially this year I had very good blooms. Please help me with the other two.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 7:09PM
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And just to add to what has all ready been said,
I was told my michelia Alba is a hybrid from the m. champaka and m. montana cross plus it has been grafted on m. champaka rootstock.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 10:33PM
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alba-mickey(San Francisco)

Wanna run faster: I have a 25 feet Michelia Alba tree grow in San Francisco, outside on my backyard for about 19 years. Each year it brooms 2000 very fragent flowers. I want to graft this tree, do you know or anyone know how to graft the Michelia Alba? Need all the help I can get, thank you.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 3:51PM
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Hi Alba-Mickey,

I purchased mine from T-p Trop-cals (fill in the missing o and i :) ), perhaps they can tell you how they did the grafting?

My tree has been in the ground maybe 6 months and is doing great, flowers all the time and the scent is unbelieveable. I haven't been very successful at propagating it yet myself but I'm still trying! I would love to have this tree in at least 2 more places in the yard!

I know my 2 neighbors both got 'michelia alba's' from another source and put theirs in a good 6 months before mine, and those trees look like they are just barely hanging on, definitely no new growth and the flowers don't look at all like mine (mine are big and curled, theirs looks more like small pinwheels) or have the same scent. So I think the different experiences people have with this tree, are in part due to different culivars.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 9:52AM
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Hi Wanna,

I just bought mine from there too. And I was wondering how big is your plant when you first got it? Is true that I heard that their plant is a size one. And it's from a 3 gallon size. So when first got you just put it the ground right away or what?

Thanks Savy4

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 3:18PM
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