|Saucer Magnolia - Magnolia x soulangiana|
Magnoliaceae - Magnolia family
This lovely ornamental flowering tree has flowers to die for. USDA hardiness zones: 5A through 9A
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The genus Magnolia contains about 200 species of flowering trees and shrubs, with innumerable cultivars and varieties being developed all the time. Magnolia is an ancient plant lineage, first appearing in the fossil record about 20 million years ago, while evidence of plants in the family goes back to 90 mya .
Having evolved before pollinators in Hymenoptera (bees, wasps & ants) appeared, the progenitors of our modern ornamental magnolias relied on beetles for their sexual gratification. Their large, showy flowers are a direct result of the plant's strengthening its delicate flower parts against the beetle's comparitively "rough handling" while feeding on pollen.
Left: Primitive beetle ancestor inside 50 million year old Baltic amber .
The earliest flowering plants date back about 130 million years. According to Cronquist Evolution and Classification of Flowering Plants, the most primitive of all living angiosperms belong to the subclass Magnoliidae. This subclass contains several primitive plant families, including the water-lily family (Nymphaeaceae), buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) and Magnoliaceae. Plants in the magnolia family have the following characteristics:
Saucer magnolia most often grows as a multi-trunk, spreading tree but can be trained as a single growing to about 15 feet as pictured here. Saucer magnolia makes an outstanding specimen tree in a sunny spot where it can develop a symmetrical crown. Its large (5 to 8 inch) white-with-pink underside flowers create an amazing floral display. However, early-spring blooming plants like this cultivar are more and more being fooled into blooming too early by our increasingly warm springtimes - and any frost will ruin the flowers for that season .
Saucer Magnolia grows best in rich, moist but well-drained soil. Will tolerate some shade, but growth may be sparse and the flowers less profuse. Saucer Magnolia dislikes dry or alkaline soil but will otherwise does well in an urban environment (although salt aerosols are to be avoided). Transplant in the spring, just before growth begins, or buy balled and burlapped or containerized plants. Older plants do not like to be pruned and large wounds may not close well .
With the advent of DNA sequencing in the late 20th century, intense research into phylogenetic relationships within the family has been ongoing. Long boring explanations of the studies' results can be had at Wikipedia .
Magnoliaceae - Magnolia Family
The earliest flowering plants date back about 130 million years. According to Cronquist Evolution and Classification of Flowering Plants, the most primitive of all living angiosperms belong to the subclass Magnoliidae. This subclass contains several primitive plant families, including the water-lily family (Nymphaeaceae), buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) and Magnoliaceae.
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