Botany Photo of the Day
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Magnolia sargentiana var. robusta

Magnolia sargentiana var. robusta
Magnolia sargentiana var. robusta

Last year I bought two lenses: a wide angle and a telescopic zoom. With the benefit of hindsight, I've learned that it takes me about a year's worth of photographs to understand a lens to the point where I can visualize the composition of a photograph prior to picking up the camera. Last year, I spent a lot of time with the telescopic zoom; the plan this year is to learn how to effectively use the wide angle lens. These two photographs illustrate the difference between the lenses. In fact, the same flower appears in both (it is the second flower from the top in the wide angle photo, though actually the topmost on the plant).

In the garden's plant database, this Sargent's magnolia has a parenthetical remark: dark-flowered selection. Appropriately so, compared to what is more typically seen in cultivation, featured in St. Andrews Botanic Garden plant of the month for April 2005: Magnolia sargentiana var. robusta.

Native to the Sichuan province in China, it is interesting to note that the showy Sargent's magnolia has only been known to Western scientists since 1903, when Ernest Wilson encountered it during one of his plant exploration expeditions.

In news for local readers, there might be a few of these magnolias remaining as part of this year's rare magnolia sale. Yesterday, the organizer of the sale mentioned to me that sales have been brisk but they've yet to sell out of all the magnolias available (I'm not certain if Magnolia sargentiana var. robusta is still available, though). I advise calling sooner rather than later if you're planning to add a magnolia to your garden.


Glad it's not just me! I got a new camera (Canon Powershot S3) for Christmas, and the initial photos I took were terrible. Now I am getting better, but still trying to get the hang of the macro settings.

Must be even tougher with a digital SLR!

But your photos look like you are getting the hang of it :-)

Katherine, some very nice photos on your site. For most of us, the secret is indeed practice, practice, practice. Yesterday was the first time I'd been out in a few weeks, and it certainly showed to me in the numbers of photographs I tossed.

Following on from last year's discussion regarding this being recorded as "dark form" when I search the internet for "Chyverton Dark Form" I get this page showing that a plant under that name (but a different accession number) is supposed to be in the collections at UBC.

In these shots it looks it may have originated from a crossing with M. sprengeri 'Diva' at Chyverton (if this plant is an example of 'Chyverton Dark Form'). Perhaps the original seedling was grown from open-pollinated seed. I see 'Diva' characteristics in the coloring and structure of the flowers in these pictures.

There has also been speculation elsewhere that the 'Chyverton Red' cultivar of M. dawsoniana got its coloring from a cross with 'Diva'. One would have to pick and compare flowering specimens of the suspected parents and the named selection to go much farther with this. And without a confirming DNA analysis it would still be speculation.

For what it's worth, this is the "dark form" (UBC accession #27010) that we acquired from Gossler Farms (Oregon) in 1986, not the "Chyverton Dark Form" (UBC accession #25075) we grow in another part of the garden (not yet in flower) that came from Chyverton in 1985. I discussed the Gossler form a few days back (March 11) on BPotD. Like Ron, I suspect that this particular clone is a hybrid, as it does not have the same loose, seagull-hitting-a-brick-wall look that I associate with the true Magnolia sargentiana var. robusta (apologies to bird lovers). Indeed, my esteemed predecessor, Gerald Straley, who knew a thing or two about plants, described M. sargentiana var. robusta in flower as looking like a tree strewn with women's underwear. Clearly, the tree pictured above does not.

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