Sunday, May 19, 2013
My 58 Million-Year-Old Tree
Magnolia Macrophylla. Literally means Big Leaf Magnolia. Latin is such a romantic language, no? And is much more fitting to this woodland beauty.
Her leaves are the largest of any deciduous tree in North America. They can be nearly 3 feet long and 1 foot wide! And yet, she has such an airy, delicate appearance.
This particular individual lives at the base of the hill our house sits on. I only discovered her last year! I was overjoyed to discover that we had one of these somewhat rare and precious jewels on our property, and so close to the house!
Magnolias are among the oldest species of angiosperms (flowering plants) in the world. This species has the largest simple leaf and simple flower in the western hemisphere. It developed nearly 58 million years ago, before the evolution of bees, and thus can only be pollinated by beetles. This is one reason that they are somewhat rare.
It's also one of the reasons that these glorious 4 inch long blossoms are so incredibly fragrant. Oh, how I wish you could smell this! It is indescribably delicious! Similar to a gardenia, but much lighter and slightly lemony.
I love how its leaves spread out like an umbrella. This tree really looks prehistoric. Sadly, her blooms last only a few days and they are gone. Only a few precious days in May to be found and pollinated by just the right beetle. Life is amazing!! OK my nature nerd is showing (blush).
I hope you have enjoyed getting to know this lovely tree, and I hope you have the opportunity to see one yourself some day.
Have a great week, everyone!