Walking Around Dinosaurs: Magnolias in Full Bloom

Magnolia BlossomThe pride of my garden, the jewel of my yard, the magnolia tree in my back yard that is bigger than my house has burst forth in a brilliant explosion of herbavarian sexuality.There is no grander sight than an ancient magnolia in full and unfrost scathed bloom.

And I can truly use the word ancient here, because while my magnolia is simply a few decades old, her ancestors date back to the Triassic period. Before we mammals were a twinkle in Mother Nature’s eye, these trees were serving as a tasty snack for some giant beast that now lives on only as a fuzzy fossil x-ray. My children are forever lamenting the loss of dinosaurs from our world. Little do they know that we have a direct descendent of their version of a Happy Meal in our back yard.

While flowers on my magnolia display are magnificent to behold, they are in fact outdated flowers. You can kind of think of them as the ’57 Chevy’s of the plant world. They don’t have those fancy features like petals and nectar. Instead they have the tepals and a super sweet smell that is designed to attract pollinators as old as themselves (which do not include the bee, butterfly and wasp pollinator trifecta of the modern world). They are pollinated by beetles.

Magnolias have an odd history. Thanks to the devastation of the Ice Age which wiped out magnolias in
Europe, magnolias developed on continents, The Americas and
Asia, that are oceans apart. Asians have revered them for centuries, using them as decoration, food and medicine. Europeans, with their usual lack of cultural awareness, “discovered” them in the
Americas and brought them back to
Europe where they became an instant hit.

But magnolias are more than just Asian herbal lore, decor and salad. Early studies show that it carries compounds that may fight cancer tumors. Who would have thought that something that evolved long before we did could one day save one of our lives?

Super drug or dinosaur fodder, it does not really matter to me. Really, all I care about is that this year, the frost did not cheat me out of my magnolia display.

8 thoughts on “Walking Around Dinosaurs: Magnolias in Full Bloom
  1. I love magnolias, and am considering one for our yard. I’d like to plant a tree. My parents have a cucumber magnolia, and it’s quite possibly the most annoying tree in the world. It never has lovely magnolia blossoms, never smells good, all it does is grow GIGANTIC leaves, drop them, and then grow these rock hard seed pods that ruin the lawn mower and hurt like the dickens to step on. Figures huh?

    I love fragrant magnolias, and am seriously considering one for the yard. Hmm…


  2. Isn’t it wonderful that we still have magnolias and cycads and ferns? I think it is so amazing that we raise plants in our gardens that dinosaurs once munched upon.


  3. I am a transplant from Louisville, KY and I didn’t know magnolias were tolerant to Cleveland weather! I miss their beauty and I would love to put one in my yard. What would be the best time to plant one?


  4. Hi, I found you through a friends website because of the flower quiz. I live in the suburbs of cleveland and had to stop by and say hello.


  5. Maybe if everyone planted a magnolia in their yard, the dinosaurs would come back. That would be cool. 🙂


  6. Fabulous information on the magnolia. Glad I found this post:)

    I also took the flower quiz…thanks!


  7. Thanks for this fascinating history! We used to have a huge magnolia tree at our last house, and I miss it like crazy–the fragrance, the petals, everything.


  8. Hanna on

    Ether – Note to self, never-ever get a cucumber magnolia. Thanks for the head’s up. When they are not trying to injure you, some magnolias are great so go for it!

    Linda MacPhee-Cobb – It is utterly cool. Dino food for our fun.

    Mim – Oh yeah, they will grow here. Not the evergreen ones, like you would see in the South (though I have a frind who lived near the lake who had one of those. Lakeside is about 10F warmer than else where around here). There are a few cold hardy varieties that do well here and they will carry them at your local nursery.

    MichielleRose – Well, Hello! And thanks for stopping by. Hope to hear from you again. 🙂

    Anthony – My children and husband would be in heaven. 😉

    organicsyes – Thanks for stopping by!

    Kate – You need a new one at this house, eh?


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