Field of Science

Magnolia season has begun

Magnolia flowering season has begun, and just in time.  Our earliest magnolia is M. stellata, star magnolia, a very handsome and lacey flower tinged in pink.  About 50% of the time a frosty night ruins the flowers, so TPP planted his where it is shaded in the morning which pushes back its flowering by about 5 to 7 days, a critical amount to avoid frozen flowers.  So far (12 years now) it's been working.  However yesterday the star magnolia on campus was subject to a minor ravaging because its flowers were needed for lab.  As TPP had to explain to a couple of nosy butt-inskies, this is what the campus is for; it represents the largest and most frequently visited classroom on campus, and TPP is the instructor. Figuring out this flower poses another problem because students can only count to 20 (fingers & toes), so the numerous parts of many magnoliad flowers leaves them with basic aboriginal quantification, many parts, and they fail to discover that on average the many parts are multiples of 3.  Don't take TPP's word for it, count the parts on a couple of dozen flowers and see for yourself.  Sigh.  They take my word for it.  The stamens also confuse because they don't look like stamens are supposed to look.Where's the filaments? Where are the sepals? Are those all pistils?  And so begins the not all flowers look like textbook illustrations, in fact, most don't lesson. Just wait until Calycanthus flowers; now that's some fun.  

2 comments:

PlantPostings said...

Magnolia time! I am envious ... but hopeful, because now it can't be far off for us here, just a few hours north. Unfortunately, Magnolia time is way too short. Enjoy!

The Phytophactor said...

My Magnolia virginiana greatly extends my season, but almost certainly too tender for your climate.