You can hardly have a photo of the green waxy leaves of the Southern Magnolia tree (yesterday) without having at least one photo of the magnificent white and lemony fragrant Southern Magnolia flowers. These flowers can reach a width of 8 inches (20.3 cm) or more and are about as white-white as anything you’ll find in nature. This particular flower was freshly open.
There, now that I’ve proven Magnolias are more ancient then I am, I can share this childhood memory without disbelief.
Magnolia is an ancient genus. Having evolved before bees appeared, the flowers developed to encourage pollination by beetles. As a result, the carpels of Magnolia flowers are tough, to avoid damage by eating and crawling beetles. Fossilised specimens of M. acuminata have been found dating to 20 million years ago, and of plants identifiably belonging to the Magnoliaceae dating to 95 million years ago – Magnolia, Wikipedia
When I was growing up an aunt of mine had a huge Southern Magnolia in her yard that was always a joy for us kids to play under and in. It’s limbs were well spaced and came down to the ground making easy material for our imaginations at play — it was a house, a fortress, a look-out tower, Tarzan’s treehouse and a hundred other things.
I also remember the sweet fragrance among the tree and flowers was at times overpowering. If you smell a Magnolia flower you’re not likely to forget it. For me it still brings back memories.