Saucer Magnolia: Nobility, Purity, Perseverance

Saucer Magnolia: Nobility, Purity, Perseverance

Saucer magnolia is also known as tulip magnolia because of its huge tulip-shaped flowers that bloom in late winter or early spring. The flowers are purplish-pink on the outside but white on the inside, and the petals are covered with a wax that gives them an elegant matte luster. Furthermore, the flowers of the saucer magnolia are classical and simple, with large, thick petals that exude an aromatic fragrance. The tree looks particularly charming in the winter garden.

Saucer Magnolia: Nobility, Purity, Perseverance

Saucer magnolia is a species that produces flowers first, and then afterward sprouts leaves. When it blooms, the trees are filled with white flowers. When the petals fall off, the tree grows new, green leaves. From then onwards, the leaves gradually turn dark green. Even in the non-flowering season, saucer magnolia is a beautiful, small tree. Most saucer magnolias take about 20 years to reach their final height, which is generally 6-7 meters tall. This makes the species a good choice for small gardens.

Saucer Magnolia: Nobility, Purity, Perseverance
Varieties selected by veterans

Saucer magnolia was originally selectively bred by a veteran named Étienne Soulange-Bodin (1774-1846). In 1820, he hybridized yulan magnolia (Magnolia denudata) with purple magnolia (M. liliiflora) in Château de Fromont near Paris. The saucer magnolia descended from these plants.

Saucer magnolia has both male and female flowers. The two-color flowers are usually considered to represent dignity, nobility, and purity, which makes them great symbols for acknowledging a precious friendship. After years of breeding, saucer magnolia now has many amazing varieties. This includes the huge ‘Atlas’, whose flowers can grow up to 35 cm large, and the petite ‘Ann’, which can only grow up to 4.5m high.

Saucer Magnolia: Nobility, Purity, Perseverance

Other ornamental species of magnolia carry auspicious meanings, such as the white flowers of southern magnolia (M. grandiflora), which symbolize purity. Thanks to this association, they often appear in bridal bouquets in South America.

Saucer Magnolia: Nobility, Purity, Perseverance

The flower of southern magnolia

In the United States, southern magnolia is the state flower of both Mississippi and Louisiana. On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, yulan magnolia is the city flower of Shanghai, China. The British also like all varieties of magnolia so much that they set up four seed banks for it in Berkshire, Yorkshire, Cornwall, and North Wales.

Big brother of the flowers

Although saucer magnolia is only 200 years old, its relatives in the Magnolia plant genus are actually an ancient species. If we look at fossil specimens, it is not difficult to find evidence of magnolia that traces back to 20 million years ago. Magnolia is one of the earliest branches of flowering plants.

Saucer Magnolia: Nobility, Purity, Perseverance

Magnolia trees in bloom

However, these ancient species are facing the threats of deforestation and habitat destruction. According to the IUCN, 147 of the 304 species of Magnolia are in danger of extinction.

Are magnolias edible?

In China, yulan magnolia and southern magnolia flowers are served fried or honey-soaked for consumption. According to a study by the Arkansas Department of agriculture, southern magnolia flowers are indeed non-toxic to humans. However, with only a few exceptions, Magnolia plants often have a certain level of toxicity. Even though rumors about the “magical function” of magnolia flowers or bark are widely spread on the internet, don’t fall for them. Avoid eating the plant, especially if you are pregnant.

Saucer Magnolia: Nobility, Purity, Perseverance

Southern Magnolia blossoms are not as glamorous as magnolia, but the blossoms are really huge

When it comes to magnolia and cooking, take a look at Joanna Gaines’ very relatable Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering. This #1 New York Times bestselling cookbook will definitely have an amazing impact on your lunch.

Heroines in the name of Mulan

The Disney animated film Mulan, released in 1998, is based on the story of “Mulan”, a Chinese heroine tale from about 1600 years ago. The live-action film of the sequel will be premiered in North America by Disney on March 27, 2020. In Chinese, “Mulan” is a synonym for Magnolia.

Saucer Magnolia: Nobility, Purity, Perseverance

Magnolia flowers

Mulan, in addition to being one of the most widely known Disney movie heroines, has also been associated with the Nobel Prize.

Lin Yutang, who graduated from Harvard University, wrote a novel titled Moment in Peking which was nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature. The heroine of his story, who is courageous and optimistic, is also named “Mulan”.

Can I grow a decent saucer magnolia?

The lifespan of saucer magnolia is usually about 20-50 years. However, if the climate is suitable and well maintained, saucer magnolia can live to more than 100 years. Saucer magnolia prefers an environment with sunlight, but it can’t stand strong sunlight. It’s best to plant it somewhere with partial shade. Compared with other common ornamental species of Magnolia, saucer magnolia is very picky about soil quality. The trees require acidic, moist, well-drained soil which is rich in humus.

Saucer Magnolia: Nobility, Purity, Perseverance

The good news is that saucer magnolia is very easy to take care of. As long as planting is successful, they hardly require any further pruning. It is a tree species that easily maintains its beauty. Saucer magnolia is also an excellent shade tree and attracts wildlife, including beetles during flowering and birds when the fruit turns ripe in summer.

Size: 6-7 m (20-23 feet) high

Hardiness: USDA zone 4-9

Sunlight: full sun, partial sun

Soil: fertile, moist while well-drained, slightly acidic

Bloom Time: late winter to early spring