Specimens of Magnolia salicifolia are quite variable in habit, and appear to be tolerant of a wide range of soils and exposures. This magnolia is common in the cool-temperate forests of Japan, particularly mountain ridges facing the Sea of Japan. Wide, scented flowers emerge in early spring before the leaves. The leaves and bark are fragrant when crushed. It takes 20-50 years for the maximum height of 12 m to be reached.