Trees or shrubs, evergreen or deciduous. Leaves alternate, simple, entire or 2-10-lobed, penninerved, coriaceous; stipules connate, covering the young buds, deciduous, leaving a scar around the node, occasionally absent. Flowers terminal or axillary, mostly solitary, usually large, showy and monochlamydeous, regular, acyclic or hemicyclic, bisexual, rarely unisexual, hypogynous; bract usually one, spathaceous, often silky hairy, deciduous, leaving an annular scar on the peduncle. Perianth 2- or more-cyclic with 3-6 in each whorl, free, imbricate, usually sub-equal, fleshy, the outer sometimes reduced. Stamens numerous, free, acyclic. Gynoecium sessile or stipitate; carpels many to few, rarely one, acyclic, borne on an elongated thalamus, free or partly cohering; ovary unilocular; ovules 2 or more, anatropous, parietal. Fruit a group of follicles, winged nuts or berries. Seeds 1 or more, suspended by an elastic silky thread, albuminous.
A family of 12 genera and about 230 species in temperate, tropical and sub-tropical parts of Asia and America of which 2 genera with 3 species are cultivated in Pakistan.
The present treatment of Magnoliaceae includes only the tribe Magnolieae of Hooker f. and Thomson (Fl. Brit. Ind. I: 38-39.1875). The tribes Schisandreae, Trochodendreae and Wintereae of these authors have also been raised to the status of families following Hutchinson (Fam. Fl. ed. 2, 1:122. 1959).