SASSAFRAS BEAVERTREE [SWEETBAY MAGNOLIA]





(Magnolia Virginiana; M. glauca of Gray) Magnolia family



Flowers - White, 2 to 3 in. across, globular, depressed,

deliciously fragrant, solitary at ends of branches. Calyx of 3

petal-like, spreading sepals. Corolla of 6 to 12 concave rounded

petals in rows; stamens very numerous, short, with long anthers;

carpels also numerous, and borne on the thick, green, elongated

receptacle. Trunk: 4 to 70 ft. high. Leaves: Enfolded in the bud

by stipules that fall later and leave rings around gradually

lengthening branch; the leaves 3 to 6 in. long in maturity,

broadly oblong, thick, almost evergreen, dark above, pale

beneath, on short petioles. Fruit: An oblong, reddish pink cone,

fleshy, from which the scarlet seeds hang by slender threads.

Preferred Habitat - Swampy woods and open swamps.

Flowering Season - May-June.

Distribution - Atlantic States from Massachusetts southward, and

Gulf States from Florida to Texas.



"Every flower its own bo-quet!" shouted by a New York street

vender of the lovely magnolia blossoms he had just gathered from

the Jersey swamps, emphasized only one of the many claims they

have upon popular attention. Far and wide the handsome shrub,

which frequently attains a tree's height, is exported from its

native hiding-places to adorn men's gardens, and there, where a

better opportunity to know it at all seasons is granted, one

cannot tell which to admire most, the dark, bluish-green leathery

leaves, silvery beneath; the cream-white, deliciously fragrant

blossoms that turn pale apricot with age; or the brilliant

fruiting cone with the scarlet seeds a-dangling. At all seasons

it is a delight. When most members of this lovely tribe confine

themselves to warm latitudes, we especially prize the species

that naturally endures the rigorous climate of the "stern New

England coast."



Beavers (when they used to be common in the East) so often made

use of the laurel magnolia, not only of the roots for food, but

of the trunk, whose bitter bark, white sapwood, and soft,

reddish-brown heartwood were gnawed in constructing their huts,

that in some sections it is still known as the beaver-tree.

According to Delpino, the conspicuous, pollen-laden magnolia

flowers, with their easily accessible nectar, attract beetles

chiefly. These winged messengers, entering the heart of a newly

opened blossom, find shelter beneath the inner petals that form a

vault above their heads, and warmth that may be felt by the

finger, and abundant food; consequently they remain long in an

asylum so delightful, or until the expanding petals turn them out

to carry the pollen, with which they have been thoroughly dusted

during their hospitable entertainment, to younger flowers. As the

blossoms mature their stigmas in the first stage and the anthers

in the second, it follows the beetles must regularly

cross-fertilize them as they fly from one shelter to another.





ROUNDLEAVED SUNDEW DEWPLANT SCARLET PAINTED CUP INDIAN PAINTBRUSH facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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