Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - new Magnolia

If the two previous posts were not teasers enough, having a new Magnolia flower is always a wonderful thing, especially when the magnolia in question was not expected to grow at all.  TPP's new Magnolia is the Ashe Magnolia, either Magnolia macrophylla subspecies (or variety) ashei, or Magnolia ashei, depending upon what proves to be correct.  It certainly is a big-leafed magnolia, even saplings have huge leaves up to 18" long.  And while it can get fairly large with time, it can also be an understory shrub, and part shade is OK.  While this particular species is endemic to the Florida panhandle, where TPP purchased the seedling for $10 (thanks to his sister taking him to a native plant nursery).  Everyone thinks a Florida endemic species growing in the upper Midwest is not a recipe for success, but apparently temperature is not the limiting factor.  Big-leafed Magnolias normal range extends to SE Ohio. And if we get a very cold winter, TPP's ashe magnolia might be in trouble, but it has survived winter lows of 0 F (32 degrees F below freezing for my civilized C readers) without any damage.  Some protection from wind is important; it's those big leaves.  So with some luck TPP will have this tree for years. 
At any rate this magnolia also flowers at a young age and size.  This is just the tree's 3d year, and it's only 4 feet tall.  Fully open this wonderful flower if the size of a dinner plate (12" in diameter), 6 white tepals with a blush of red at their base.  Actually the flower is open and in the female (pollen-accepting) stage when cylindrical.  If you look closely the anthers are shattering and falling into the bases of the tepals (male phase), rather like a southern magnolia, and soon they will be set upon by little beetles.  No question this is quite the flower, and on a 4 foot tall tree, it's downright fabulous. TPP celebrated with a mint julip. And that's it, one flower, this year.  The tree can be obtained from a number of nurseries by mail order should you be interested. 

1 comment:

Roger Latour said...

Quite amazing! It was certainly worth the wait!