Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Magnolia


What is magnolia? A very ancient flower that appeared on our planet many millions years in the past (the oldest fossils of magnolia dates 95 millions years ago).
Being a very old flower, it has some interesting and curious characteristics: it has no clear distinction between petals and sepals and it is pollinated by beetles, rather than bees (just because magnolia is older than bee itself). Most magnolias can be found in Asia, however there are many species original from North America, Central America, the West Indies and even South America.
The flower was initially classified by Charles Plumier in 1703 and he is the one who gave it the name of the French botanist Pierre Magnol. In the 18th century, different species have been discovered, so it was necessary to split the genus into two subgenera: Magnolia and Yulania. Later on, a new subgenus has been added: Gynopodium. Now there are more than 200 different species, having 12 sections, and 13 subsections inside the three above mentioned subgenera.

The flower can be white, pink or purple and it smells very nice. It is rather large (up to 30cm in Magnolia grandiflora or 10-20cm for other species) and you can usually see plenty of flowers in a magnolia tree.
Apart from its decorative purpose, magnolia have different other usages. It is used in Chinese traditional medicine (because its anti-anxiety and anti-angiogenic properties) and recently in the dental community because it was discovered that can have an inhibitive effect for bacteria that is causing caries. In Japan it is used for cooking different dishes and wrapping food.
Magnolia gave the name of a famous movie, starring Tom Cruise and there is a registered color having the same name (chosen as one of X Window System color names). Many cities in US have their name Magnolia and the states of Mississippi and Louisiana have it as official state flower. North Korea considers Magnolia sieboldii as their national flower.

Many interesting details can be found in external links like:
Magnolia Society and
List of magnolias

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