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Common Names: Bai Lan, Pak Lan,White Sandalwood, White Jade Orchid

Origin: China

  • Tropical look
  • Fragrant white flowers
  • Large, glossy green leaves

A beautiful evergreen tree the Michelia alba is also known as White Sandalwood or White Jade Orchid Tree. It has large, luscious lime-green foliage that looks almost luminous. This large evergreen foliage makes this tree perfect for screening out neighbours or unsightly spots in the garden. It is also commonly used as a feature and shade tree, providing year around shade and grows in a naturally beautiful teardrop shape. These magnificent specimens work wonders when trying to create the tropical look in the all but tropical climates of Melbourne. They’re a great filler and shelter plant in this respect as Michelia alba can handle the cold temperatures whilst sheltering the more delicate plants underneath.

This magnificent tree has another gorgeous feature, producing heavily fragrant flowers hidden amongst the foliage. These delicate, white wispy flowers are orchid-like, hence the common name White Jade Orchid. This tree is considered to be good luck throughout Southeast Asia and highly prized due to its medicinal and spiritual properties. It is considered to bestow good luck, and the fragrance is also known to be an aphrodisiac. In fact the flowers are a common ingredient used for fragrances and cosmetics.

Michelia alba can also be grown in pots and containers, suitable for a courtyard or large balcony provided the soil is well draining, moist and positioned in a dappled shade or morning sun spot.

Plant Type: Tree

Uses: Tall Hedge, Medium Hedge, Pleaching

Garden Types: Pots & Containers, Formal, Modern, Hampton, Tropical


They prefers to be protected from hot, northerly winds and severe frosts so it’s not suitable to be planted in an open, exposed area, particularly in regional areas. Melbourne, fortunately, doesn’t suffer from extreme frost (excluding the very outer suburbs!)
Fertilize in spring and autumn. During summer it may require regular watering, particularly in the very hot periods – 30 degrees or above.


Michelia alba don’t like very soggy soils so make sure your soil is well draining. If you have particularly heavy clay soil, mound up fresh loamy soil and plant the tree in this slightly elevated position. Planting trees in a mound assists in drainage.

Michelia alba available now

Other Michelia and Magnolia varieties available

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