What a show-off!
The single, saucer shaped blooms sitting atop clusters of long and broad, dark green lustrous leaves would tempt any passerby with a camera. Try walking past these lemon-scented, 8-12 inch white beauties without turning around to further investigate. Each magnificent bloom presents 6-12 textured waxy petals emerging from tips of twigs on mature trees during late spring just waiting to be captured for all time.
As indispensable as fried catfish and grits are to the Southern lifestyle, the Southern Magnolia (Magnolia Grandiflora) is an historical time-honored landmark on the southeastern United States landscape. Preferring to exist with consistent moisture, it has adapted to a variety of habitats, including the tidewater areas of Virginia. As a native Midwesterner and accustomed to the wide open range, I will never forget the first time I walked into a Mississippi welcome center. Overcome with sheer awe at the varied exhibits—paintings, photographs, and ceramics of this Southern floral showpiece. I’ve been in love with the show-off ever since.
Flashy red or pink magnolia fruits displaying red, orange, or pink kidney-shaped seeds, hang from the reddish-brown conelike fruit, often by a thread-like strand during early autumn.
So infatuated with this Southern delicacy in the 1980’s, I preserved the glossy elongated leaves for dried floral arrangements. Shelves in my south Arkansas laundry room were dedicated for this purpose and lined with jars of mature Southern Magnolia leaves, soaking up a glycerin/water mixture. Glycerizing foliage such as magnolia or mistletoe foliage is quite easy but can be expensive. Visit http://www.clemson.edu, search for drying flowers, and you’ll find a wealth of information about drying a variety of flowers by multiple means.
As with all of life, seasons come and go on a regular basis. The life cycle of Magnolia Grandiflora blossom is no exception. Even though I have been taken with the beautiful creation for the past 20 years, the tedious task of raking up to 8-inch long leaves and 4-inch seed cones in autumn can definitely test one’s character. Then after you’ve conquered this daunting task for a meticulous yard, what do you do with the knee-high piles of thick-leafed debris?
Shred with a mower for compost? Watch out for those flying cones! Other than never planting a Southern Magnolia in the first place, just don’t trim the lower limbs. As the seasons change, shove it all underneath the branches out of sight.
Both Louisiana and Mississippi claim the Magnolia Grandiflora as their state flower. While researching for this publication, the information found at the following website was of particular interest to me since I live in the Magnolia State.http://netstate.com/states/symb/flowers/ms_magnolia.htm
It seems the flower or bloom of the magnolia (Magnolia Grandiflora) wasn’t adopted as Mississippi’s state flower until 1952, fifty-two years after the fact. A designated election was held in November 1900 by Mississippi school children for the sole purpose of selecting a state flower. More than half of the 23,278 children voted for the magnolia blossom. However, no legislative action was taken as a result of the contest even though most Magnolia State residents have considered it the state’s flower since then.
In 1935 Mississippi’s Director of Forestry initiated a movement to adopt an official state tree to represent the state. Again, Mississippi’s school children were offered the opportunity to vote, and the Southern Magnolia proved to be the overwhelming favorite. On April 1, 1938 the Mississippi Legislature officially approved the Magnolia Grandiflora as the state tree of Mississippi.
It wasn’t until February 26, 1952 the Mississippi Legislature approved the spectacular showpiece of this publication. Interesting indeed.
Did you know?
- Magnolia flowers are typically pollinated by beetles, not bees. Magnolia flowers do not produce nectar, but they produce large quantities of pollen. The pollen is high in protein, and the beetles use it for food.
- Magnolias are some of the most primitive of all flowering plants. Visit the following website to learn why. http://www.backyardnature.net/fl_magno.htm
- Magnolia genus was most likely named after the French botanist, Pierre Magnol.
As I mentioned earlier, there is a plethora of ways the Southern Magnolia blossom has been presented or exhibited, such as in paintings and the artistic realm. Adding now my own version of delicate artwork, I hope you will drink in the fragrance of these two stunning performers.
There have also been rave reviews of the following floral artists:
The Southern Magnolia blossom shows off in May here in northeast Mississippi. You can be confident I will be out and about with camera and a passionate determination to capture its unfolding beauty.
Note: these images can also been seen at http://www.corinthrose.com under Flowers.