Magnolia officinalis (bark)

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Magnolia officinalis Rehder & E.H. Wilson   Magnoliaceae  
Standardized common name (English): magnolia  
Pinyin name(s): hou po; hou po (bark of stem; twig; and root); hou po hua (flower bud)

Botanical Voucher Specimen


Magnolia officinalis Kew barcode=K000681415 308529.jpg
Source: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.[1]

Organoleptic Characteristics

[The bark of Magnolia officinalis is] inodorous; taste somewhat astringent, pungent, and bitter.

The aromatic property, which resides in a volatile principle, is diminished by desiccation, and entirely lost when the bark is long kept. The bitterness, however, remains. The bark is destitute of astringency.
Source: United States Dispensatory (1918) [2]

Macroscopic Characteristics

The bark from young wood is quilled or curved, thin, externally orange-brown and glossy, or light gray, with scattered warts and somewhat fissured, internally whitish or pale brownish and smooth; fracture short, in the inner layer somewhat fibrous ...

The bark of old wood, deprived of the cork, is whitish or brownish, fibrous, and less pungent.

Source: United States Dispensatory (1918) [3]

Microscopic Characteristics

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Magnolia officinalis - Alkemist Laboratories.jpg
Cells containing yellow-brown oil observed at 400x with Acidified Chloral Hydrate Glycerol Solution.
Source: Elan M. Sudberg, Alkemist Laboratories[4]

Magnolia officinalis-2 - Alkemist Laboratories.jpg
Star shaped lignified sclereids observed at 400x with phloroglucinol + HCl.
Source: Elan M. Sudberg, Alkemist Laboratories[5]

Magnolia officinalis-3 - Alkemist Laboratories.jpg
Lignified fibers observed at 400x with phloroglucinol + HCl.
Source: Elan M. Sudberg, Alkemist Laboratories[6]

High Performance Thin Layer Chromatographic Identification

AP-LOGO-Laboratories Crop - Copy.jpg
Magnolia officinalis HPTLC ID - 10% Ethanolic H2SO4 visible light

Magnolia (bark) (Magnolia officinalis)

Lane Assignments Lanes, from left to right (Track, Volume, Sample):

  1. 3 μL Magnolol ~ 0.1% in Methanol
  2. 3 μL Magnolia officinalis-1
  3. 3 μL Magnolia officinalis-2
  4. 3 μL Magnolia officinalis-3
  5. 3 μL Magnolia officinalis-3
  6. 4 μL Magnolia officinalis-4
  7. 2 μL Magnolia officinalis-4
  8. 3 μL Honokiol ~ 0.1% in Methanol

Reference materials used here have been authenticated by macroscopic, microscopic &/or TLC studies according to the reference source cited below held at Alkemists Laboratories, Costa Mesa, CA. 

Stationary Phase Silica gel 60, F254, 10 x 10 cm HPTLC plates 

Mobile Phase cyclohexane: ethyl acetate: HCOOH [6/4/0.2] 

Sample Preparation Method 0.3g+3mL 70% grain EtOH sonicate/heat @~50° C ~ 1/2 hr 

Detection Method 10% Ethanolic H2SO4 -> 115° C 15 min -> visible light 

Reference see Pharmacopoeia of The Peoples Republic of China, Volume 1, 1997

Source: Elan M. Sudberg, Alkemist Laboratories [7]

Supplementary Information


  1. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  2. United States Dispensatory (1918)
  3. United States Dispensatory (1918)
  4. Elan M. Sudberg, Alkemist Laboratories
  5. Elan M. Sudberg, Alkemist Laboratories
  6. Elan M. Sudberg, Alkemist Laboratories
  7. Elan M. Sudberg, Alkemist Laboratories
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