Botany Photo of the Day
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Magnolia zenii

Magnolia zenii
Magnolia zenii

“‘Oh, look, look, Magnolia Z . . . oh wow, we gotta walk up to Magnolia zenii, oh wow, wow, wow! Magnolia zenii is out. Oh, all is right with the world, one of the first magnolias.’” — Michael Dirr, quoted in this piece on his retirement from the University of Georgia.

Like so many other rare Chinese plants, Zen's magnolia is endemic to one mountainside in China, the north slopes of Mt. Boa-hua. The interesting story of Magnolia zenii, including details on its introduction, cultivation and propagation, is expertly told by Peter Del Tredici and Stephen Spongberg in A New Magnolia Blooms in Boston (PDF) from Arnoldia 49(2).

Del Tredici and Spongberg mention that the flowers of Magnolia zenii are “extremely fragrant”. I concur, though I wouldn't want to be forced to smell them for a long period of time. A quick drink of the scent is perfumey and pleasant (and as a garden visitor mentioned to me after I suggested he smell them while I was taking these photographs, “wild”), but I found a longer quaff causes the fragrance to be cloying.


Magnolia zenii - Z9 - RHS Index of Garden Plants, Griffiths

You're lucky to live where magnolia will thrive, Daniel. Gorgeous photos of a gorgeous tree~

Looks like the flowers can become profuse as the tree matures.

"One of the four plants at the Arnold Arboretum bloomed at about seven years of age. Flowers had only 6-7 tepals, due to lack of expansion of 2-3 of the inner tepals. A plant at the U.S. National Arboretum first bloomed in 1990 at the age of nine years. There is a strong fragrance to these flowers. The species may be marginally hardy in Zone 5, yet further observation is necessary to confirm this."

--Callaway, THE WORLD OF MAGNOLIAS (Timber Press)

where can I find one of these trees? contact me at email address removed -- Daniel. thanks.

Frank, I've sent you a how-to on using the forums, where we have a Sourcing Plants and Supplies area. This allows you to keep your email address private while getting a response from a larger population of folks.

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