Magnolia (Magnolia species)

Immediately east of Miller Hall Map

Known for their showy flowers and hardiness magnolias are one of the most widely planted and highly differentiated trees on earth. With over 210 species of magnolia worldwide would be a fool's errand for an amateur to attempt to identify the species of magnolia illustrated here.

Magnolia is an ancient genus of tree that predate bees. The flowers have evolved to encourage pollination by beetles. To avoid damage from pollinating beetles, the carpels of Magnolia flowers are extremely tough.

Many magnolias are mere shrubs, but others attain indisputable treelike proportions. The chief defining characteristic of magnolias is large, silky, generally cream-colored flowers that appear in late spring or early summer. Magnolias can be either deciduous or evergreen. Some deciduous varieties produce flowers before their leaves unfurl, whereas others (North American natives for the most part) flower after they leaf out. After the flowers are spent a curious knobby cucumber-like stalk may remain throughout the summer and into the fall. To small boys engaged in war games, these are unmistakably grenades, to be plucked from the tree and hurled at enemies.