Magnolia is a large genus of about 210 flowering plant species in the subfamily Magnolioideae. It is named after French botanist Pierre Magnol. Magnolia is an ancient genus. Appearing before bees did, the flowers are theorized to have evolved to encourage pollination by beetles. To avoid damage from pollinating beetles, the carpels of Magnolia flowers are extremely tough. Fossilised specimens of M. acuminata have been found dating to 20 million years ago, and of plants identifiably belonging to the Magnoliaceae date to 95 million years ago.
The Magnolia flowers may be white, pink or purple. Magnolia flowers size ranges from 3-12 inch in diameter. Some species of Magnolias have strap-shaped petals depending on the species. Magnolias seeds may remain dormant for many years (15-20 years). Magnolia flowers are protogynous, appearing with or before leaves. The tepals of Magnolias are 9-15. Stamens are present on elongate torus, early deciduous; filaments white or purple, very short; anthers introrse or latrorse.
The name Magnolia first appeared in 1703 in the Genera of Charles Plumier (1646–1704), for a flowering tree from the island of Martinique. English botanist William Sherard, who studied botany in Paris, a pupil of Magnol, was most probably the first after Plumier to adopt the genus name Magnolia.
Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature.
– Gerard De Nerval –
There seem to be as many symbol interpretations about magnolias as there are people who love magnolias:
- In Victorian times, sending flowers was a discreet way of lovers sending messages to each other. Magnolias symbolized dignity and nobility.
- In ancient China, magnolias were thought to be the perfect symbols of womanly beauty and gentleness.
- In the American South, white magnolias are commonly seen in bridal bouquets because the flowers are thought to reflect and emphasize the bride’s purity and nobility.
- Magnolias grow on trees, not vines, bushes or on stalks. These trees can live for a full century.
- Magnolias cannot pollinate without the help of beetles. Their bright and sweet-smelling flowers help attract these beetles.
- Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) became the state flower of Mississippi in 1952.
- The fragrant magnolia, also called Siebold’s magnolia (Magnolia sieboldii) is North Korea’s national flower.
When caring for Magnolias, keep in mind:
- Apply fertilizer during the first three growing seasons.
- Measure an area three times the canopy spread, then broadcast one pound 2 cups of fertilizer per 100 square feet in March, May, July and September.
- By the fourth growing season, reduce the fertilizer to once or twice a year.
- Shape the plant intermittently into a pyramidal shape.
- In windy times, the plant should be given the help of guy wires.