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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Plant of the Month: the Galaxy Magnolia

Plant of the Month: the Galaxy Magnolia

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Saturday, April 9, 2016/Categories: natural history, photography, art and design, environment, plants

                                                   Magnolia cv. 'Galaxy'  (credit: SWP Media)

Magnolias represent some of the earliest of flowering plants. Some species in this family of trees are thought to have existed during the time of the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago. The magnolias are grown worldwide in temperate climates for the beauty.

Today both evergreen and deciduous magnolia species exist in the Americas and Asia. The highly fragrant evergreen magnolia (M. grandiflora) grows throughout the southern United States and widely cultivated elsewhere. The tree is a recognizeable, if silent, character in many a piece of fine southern storytelling. Less well known but still highly appreciated are the deciduous species native to the Himalayas and other Asian mountains. The Yulan magnolia (M. denudata) is thought to be one of the first flowering trees ever cultivated when Buddhist monks grew them around their monestaries 2500 years ago.

There are 40 species of deciduous magnolias known and many hybrids that have been developed. The trees can produce white, pink, red, purple, or yellow flowers and new cultivars are always being developed from the wild species. Deciduous magnolias would present a beautiful display of blooms for anyone who goes trekking in Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, or Tibet, during the spring.


                 Magnolia cv. 'Galaxy'  (credit: SWP Media)

The Galaxy magnolia is a good example for a 'plant of the month' with its iridescent blooms. 'Galaxy' was created in 1963 by breeding two wild selections (Magnolia liliflora 'Nigra' and M. sprengeri 'Diva'). 'Galaxy' first flowered after 9 years from seed, the cultivar was registered with the Magnolia Society, and grafted saplings released to nurseries in 1980. Some better known types of deciduous magnolias are available in general nursery cultivation but newer forms are typlically found speciality horticultural growers such as Gossler Farms where the newer selections are produced. The trees take several years to produce flowers but they are well worth the wait.



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