In 2004, a magnolia tree with flowers displaying nine evenly red tepals on the outside and inside was discovered in a secondary forest at an elevation of 4908 ft (1496 m) by Luyi Ma and his research team in Wufeng County, Hubei Province, China. Subsequently, this individual was identified as a new species in Magnoliaceae named Magnolia wufengensis L.Y. Ma & L.R. Wang (Ma et al., 2006a). This rare phenotype has been cultivated and named ‘Jiaohong No.1’ (Xiao et al., 2018). In the course of extensive investigations, some magnolia trees in same secondary forest with morphological characteristics similar to those of M. wufengensis ‘Jiaohong No.1’ displayed variations in tepal number, form and color were discovered. After the systematic specimens were gathered, the taxonomic characteristics checked, and AFLP DNA molecular mark analyzed, these trees were confirmed as a new variety of M. wufengensis. Compared with M. wufengensis, because it has more tepals, they were identified as M. wufengensis var. multitepala L.Y. Ma & L.R. Wang (Ma et al., 2006b). Among M. wufengensis var. multitepala, one phenotype was encountered with high ornamental and scientific value owing to its lotus-shaped flowers. With the further ongoing efforts of Luyi Ma and his team, this rare phenotype has been preserved and propagated vegetatively via grafting. On 17 Oct. 2017, this phenotype was approved by the State Forestry Administration Office for the Protection of New Varieties for the release as a new cultivar M. wufengensis ‘Jiaolian’. The cultivar is under patent protection by Beijing Forestry University, Three Gorges University, and Wufeng Boling Magnolia Technology Development Co., Ltd (patent no. 20170114). In 2017, ‘Jiaolian’ was awarded the first prize by the Organizing Committee of the 14th China Seedling Fair. Because of the extremely limited number of remaining individuals in its natural habitat, ‘Jiaolian’ has been cultivated and introduced to preserve the M. wufengensis germplasm.
Ma, L.Y., Wang, L.R., He, S.C., Liu, X. & Wang, X.Q. 2006a A new species of Magnolia (Magnoliaceae) from Hubei, China Bull. Bot. Res. 26 4 7
Ma, L.Y., Wang, L.R., He, S.C., Liu, X. & Wang, X.Q. 2006b A new variety of Magnolia (Magnoliaceae) from Hubei, China Bull. Bot. Res. 26 517 519
Xiao, A.H., Ma, L.Y., Sang, Z.Y. & Chen, F.J. 2018 Magnolia wufengensis ‘Jiaohong No. 1’: A magnolia cultivar with striking red flowers HortScience 53 573 574