A notice on “magnificent magnolias” from the San Francisco Botanical Garden in 2013, but equally relevant this week:

In a cool and misty corner of San Francisco, the New Year begins with one of the city’s most breathtaking annual natural marvels. San Francisco Botanical Garden is home to the most significant magnolia collection for conservation purposes outside China, where the majority of species grow. Long considered the signature flower of the Garden, nearly 100 magnolias, many rare and historic, erupt in a fragrant riot of pink and white from mid-January through March. Paleobotanists consider the magnolia family to be among the earliest flowering plants, with magnolia fossils dating back nearly 100 million years. Ice age survivors, they bloom for us now.

People in the East and South of the U.S. think of magnolias as intense summer flowers, but here they’re one of the signature winter flowers.

From Wikipedia

Magnolia is a large genus of about 210 flowering plant species in the subfamily Magnolioideae of the family Magnoliaceae. 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. Another aspect of Magnolia considered to represent an ancestral state is the flower bud is enclosed in a bract rather than in sepals; the perianth parts are undifferentiated and called tepals rather than distinct sepals and petals. Magnolia shares the tepal characteristic with several other flowering plants near the base of the flowering plant lineage such as Amborella and Nymphaea (as well as with many more recently derived plants such as Lilium).

The natural range of Magnolia species is a disjunct distribution, with a main centre in east and southeast Asia and a secondary centre in eastern North America, Central America, the West Indies, and some species in South America.

… In general, the Magnolia genus has attracted horticultural interest. Some, such as the star magnolia (M. stellata) and the saucer magnolia (Magnolia × soulangeana) flower quite early in the spring, before the leaves open. Others flower in late spring or early summer, including the sweetbay magnolia (M. virginiana) and the southern magnolia (M. grandiflora).

One of the classic garden magnolias, M. x soulangeana:

Now blooming outside Palo Alto’s City Hall.

One Response to “magnolias”

  1. The plant family Corsiaceae, new research | Dear Kitty. Some blog Says:

    […] magnolias […]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: