Friday, March 17, 2023

Who Needs Cherry Blossoms? Some Love for Flowering Magnolias

Around here, Cherry Blossoms tend to get all "Spring is here, look at these gorgeous blooming trees!" love. But for me, it's the flowering magnolias that steal the show.

Magnolias evolved so long ago, they predate bees as pollinators. Instead, beetles do the job. And because they were around in the Cretaceous Period, T-rex's would also have enjoyed their beauty. Rwaaaar!

The purple flowered magnolias are Magnolia liliiflori. liliiflora mean 'flowers like a lilly' and explains their common name of 'Lily Magnolia.' The white flowering magnolia is an example of Magnolia stellata,or 'Star Magnolia.'

These magnolias are especially dramatic because their flowers bloom before they have leaves. This is known as precocious flowering and is no doubt a technique the magnolias use to attract pollinators. It certainly attracts my camera.

A popular set of magnolia cultivars (crosses from different types of mangolias) are known as the girls. These 9 varieties were created just a few miles from where these photos were taken, at the National Arboretum in the 1950's. A keen eyed observer may be able to tell you one magnolia is an 'Ann' while another is a 'Ricki.' The names come from the daughters and wives of various employees at the arboretum. How 1950's.

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