The rare species Magnolia wufengensis frequently suffers from freezing injury in northern China. To investigate the influence of exogenous abscisic acid (ABA) application on the natural cold acclimation of M. wufengensis, physiological and biochemical changes in field-grown M. wufengensis seedlings subjected to foliar ABA treatments at four concentrations (0, 300, 600, and 900 mg·L−1) were evaluated from Sept. 2012 to Jan. 2013. The optimum foliar application concentrations of ABA for M. wufengensis were between 600 and 900 mg·L−1, which led to faster shoot growth cessation, leaf senescence, and development rates of bud endodormancy level and shoot freezing tolerance. The improved freezing tolerance under exogenous ABA application was associated with promoted dehydration and accumulation of proline, soluble protein, and certain soluble sugars such as glucose and fructose. Foliar ABA treatments initiated a cascade of steps for advancing the cold acclimation process of M. wufengensis. We suggest that exogenous ABA application may be used on M. wufengensis grown in northern China, where there are short growing seasons and early fall frost events.