100 Species Challenge: Magnolia

100 Species Challenge: Magnolia

It’s taken me some time to get going; but here is my first entry for the 100 Species Challenge.

I was positive that the tree in our yard was a variety of magnolia, but I didn’t know what species it was. And I discovered that Magnolia is a large genus of about 210 flowering plant species (Wikipedia: magnolia). So I had a little detective work to do. I do know that it isn’t the same as either the magnolias I knew from Texas (magnolia grandiflora) or the ones I’d seen in Boston (I think those are the hybrid Magnolia � soulangeana or saucer magnolia).

I think ours might be a Magnolia tripetala, commonly called Umbrella magnolia (wikipedia article here, and pictures here).

Wikipedia says:

Magnolia tripetala, commonly called Umbrella magnolia, is a deciduous tree native to the southeastern United States in the Appalachian Mountains region. Umbrella magnolias have large shiny leaves 30-50 cm long, spreading from stout stems. In a natural setting the Umbrella magnolia can grow 15 m tall. The flowers are large, 15-25 cm diameter, with six to nine creamy-white petals and a large red style, which later develops into a red fruit 10 cm long, containing several red seeds.

These trees are attractive and easy to grow. The leaves will turn yellow in the autumn. It is also sometimes known as ‘Umbrella tree’.

image image image image image image
Pictures I took this spring and last fall. I thought I had a picture of the flower, but I guess not.

Fun facts about magnolias:

  • The genus is named after French botanist Pierre Magnol.
  • Having evolved before bees appeared, the flowers developed to encourage pollination by beetles. As a result, the carpels of Magnolia flowers are tough, to avoid damage by eating and crawling beetles.
  • Another primitive aspect of Magnolias is their lack of distinct sepals or petals. The term tepal has been coined to refer to the intermediate element that Magnolia has instead.

Other links with pictures: Duke, Virginia Tech. Tree Topics

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