Field of Science

Do not covet thy neighbor's Magnolia

Who would ever follow such a ridiculous commandment? Besides when you got a thing for magnolias, you covet them all. You resent hardiness zone restrictions, and cost is no object, but other than that the Phactor is as objective about magnolias as the next guy. My neighbor doesn't have any magnolias, but a fine specimen of Magnolia kobus grows on our campus and its flowering display this year was magnificent. Some of the taxonomic experts say star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) should be Magnolia kobus var. stellata, and they are quite similar. The Kobushi magnolia is generally a bigger tree/shrub with bigger flowers bearing fewer bigger petals than star magnolia. It is quite hardy to the depths of zone 5, and one optimistic source said it has zone 4 hardiness. Maybe. This specimen was suffering a bit from a windy day so the flowers were a bit whipped, but still this flower was all of seven inches (17.5 cm) across with petals over 4 cm wide. When it first emerged, like most white flowered magnolias there were lots of pink highlights. Here in the Midwest it's better to plant these early magnolias where they won't flower quite so early thus risking a heavy frost ruining the floral display.

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