Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Magnolias at the Greensboro Arboretum

While I was at the Greensboro Arboretum Sunday, I took these pictures of the flowering magnolias:

This is "Leonard Messel" from the United States.

This is "Royal Star" from Japan.

And some surprising information about magnolias:

The magnolia family is very ancient with fossil remains dating between 36 and 58 million years ago. The unusual distribution of existing magnolia species resulted when Ice Age glaciers destroyed ancient European forests but not those in Asia or America.

Surviving magnolia species represent some of the more primitive flowering plants. Magnolia flowers do not have true petals and sepals but are composed of petal-like tepals. Flowers do not produce true nectar, but attract pollinating beetles with fragrant, sugary secretions. Magnolia flowers are primarily pollinated by beetles of the Nitidulidae family because magnolias evolved long before bees and other flying pollinators.

Magnolias were well known and widely used by ancient cultures in Asia and the Americas. The beautiful flowering tree,Magnolia denudata, was known as "Yu-lan" ("Jade Orchid") to the ancient Chinese and has been cultivated since the 7th century. The Japanese have grown Magnolia stellata for centuries as flowering pot plants called "Shidekobushi" ("Zigzag-petalled Kobushi Magnolia"). The Aztecs knew Magnolia macrophylla var. dealbata as "Eloxochitl" ("Flower with Green Husk").

Europeans were not familiar with magnolias and they first discovered them while exploring the Americas. In 1688, Sweet Bay (Magnolia virginiana) was the first magnolia introduced to Europe. Unaware of Amerindian or Asian names for the species, 18th century taxonomists named magnolias to commemorate Pierre Magnol, a 17th century French botanist.


frayedattheedge said...

I miss the magnolia that I had to leave behind in our last garden!

Karen said...

Anne: I love the magnolias that are all in bloom now.

Dartford Warbler said...

Beautiful. Such soft, subtle colours.

Anyes said...

I love the way their petals are falling all over, beautiful Karen