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!


Jeri Landers said...

I keep learning things from you. I believe we have one of these and I never even knew it was a Magnolia. The book you recommended to me, the Lady and the Unicorn book.. is it actually about those 6 unicorn tapestries?

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

I don't know much about trees but I love them. How cool that you have
such a rare specimen in your care. You have been given a great gift.

We have admired a huge magnolia across the street until my neighbor that owned the house passed away. The house was sold to be a rental. A couple of years ago we watched as the tenants kids climbed around on it and finally killed it. So sad. Mrs. Gribbs took such good care of it. We helped her cover it when there was a danger of frost.

Perhaps she is enjoying the tree where she is now...that's a happy thought.

Be well and be happy
xx, Carol

Michelle May-The Raspberry Rabbits said...

Oh how I love trees. Such a beauty this one is.

margaret said...

what a beauty, to have such big leaves and flowers but to be only a small tree, never seen one like this before Starr, thanks for sharing it.
This tree totally justifies beetles being on this planet!

Jules said...

How wonderful - what a treasure on your doorstep.Our magnolias were very late this year with the odd weather we're having, they usually flower by April, but, it was the beginning of May. UK ones are cultivated though:)They are beautiful, but as you say, so fleeting. Thanks for another lovely post!x

Valerianna said...

Beautiful and fascinating! Beetle pollination, how interesting. Thanks for showing us this jewel of the forest!

Mary Ann said...

Wow how lovely. It must be happy where it is to look so healthy and to produce blooms.

Winnie said...

Oh how green lush your woods are!! Very interesting about the beetle pollination. Thanks for sharing your gorgeous spring woods. We are going through another cold front with wind and rain here in the Wasatch Mountains.

Suztats said...

My friend had a magnolia tree in her yard and I often admired the blooms, and the gorgeous scent. I didn't know about the age of the tree, nor about the pollination by beetles! Thanks for being a nature nerd!

Jo May said...

This is a beautiful little tree and the magnolia flowers look lke they are from another planet!
I really enjoy seeing woodland photos on blog friends posts at the moment because it's springtime and all the wild flowers are in full bloom.
I love the idea a beetle pollination too!

Deb said...

Such a gorgeous tree & I can just imagine your joy at discovering it on your property! Loved reading all the interested information.
Fellow Tree hugger/ Nature Nerd here :-)

ArtPropelled said...

My nature nerd salutes your nature nerd :-)
Lovely to read more about Magnolias, and especially about beetle pollination. We get them here (in South Africa) but they are far chunkier and less delicate than the tree in this post.

bohemiannie! art said...

I had no idea there was such a wonderful variety of the Magnolia! It is gorgeous!