Magnolia flowers are adored and beloved for many reasons. These large flowers are not only beautiful, but also very fragrant with a scent similar to that of a tropical fruit. There are hundreds of magnolia species that come in all shapes and sizes, including both deciduous and evergreen plants.
These stunning flowers bloom in the spring for most deciduous types, typically just before the trees fill out with leaves. Evergreen species usually begin flowering in late spring. The flowers, sadly, only live a week or two!
Though there are many varieties, the southern magnolia, more formally called the magnolia grandiflora, is the most spectacular of the species. These huge evergreen trees reach 90 feet in height and produce giant white blossoms up to 12 inches in diameter! Blooms start appearing in early spring and continue through the summer, sometimes continuing into fall.
While the flowers are absolutely stunning, the leaves are almost just as gorgeous. The large, shiny leaves are arranged alternatively on the tree’s branches. Their waxy coating gives them a leathery look and texture.
Because of their beauty, magnolia trees have been naturalized to nearly all continents of the world, though they originate from Southeast Asia and North America.
Magnolia trees were discovered by French botanist Charles Plumier on the island of Martinique in France. Despite this, the trees were named after a French botanist Pierre Magnolia. Pierre helped scientists determine the plant classification notion that all plant species can be further divided into families! He was one of the scientists who discovered the different families of magnolias.
The symbolic meaning of these cherished flowers varies among different cultures and has changed over time. In ancient China, magnolias were thought to embody womanly beauty and gentleness. The Chinese Emperor would give a magnolia flower to his faithful subjects to show his respect for them.
In Japan, magnolia flowers are used for both medical purposes and as ornamental plants. The flower is called Hanakotoba in the Japanese system of flower meanings. This means that the flower is sublime, natural, and shows love for nature.
The approximately 210 species produce flowers that vary in size and color, some plain and some very vibrant. White is the most common.
In the United States, particularly in the south, white magnolias are commonly found in bridal bouquets with the idea that they reflect and highlight a bride’s purity, grace and elegance. In addition to bouquets, they are also found in centerpieces, swagged garlands and sometimes even as hair adornments for brides-to-be.
Pink is another common color of the magnolia flower, with shades that vary from tree to tree, ranging from light pink to fuchsia. Pink magnolia flowers symbolize youth, innocence, and joy.
In addition to the most common whites and pinks, these magnificent flowers can bloom in mauve, peach, yellow, lavender, and purple varieties naturally, but can be fashioned in any color imaginable. Bright red is one of our favorites, making us think of love as well as everyone’s favorite time of year, Christmas!
In traditional medicine, the Chinese and Japanese have used the medicinal extract of magnolia bark for 2000 years. Today, this extract is used in natural medicines, but more commonly in the beauty industry. Shampoos with extract of magnolia take on the tropical scent of the flower.
Widespread love of these flowers is no surprise because they are impressively beautiful as well as fragrant. Magnolia flowers are considered one of the most splendid and rich flowers that exists.