Southern Magnolia blooming now

No, it’s not native in Sewanee, but it’s planted abundantly on campus and around residences and it has several native relatives here. These relatives are all deciduous magnolias — unlike Southern magnolia, they lose their leaves in the winter. They include bigleaf, umbrella, and cucumber magnolias, and our state tree Yellow-poplar. All of the magnolias have large flowers with creamy-white petals and produce a heady perfume. Yellow-poplar flowers, a little smaller, have a beauty of their own. All are from an ancient lineage, and their flower structure, described as “ancestral,” appeals to a variety of pollinators, especially beetlesmagnolia.

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