Zone-four-hardy magnolias first caught my eye because they produce their creamy, slightly lop-eared flowers before their leaves. I'd never seen that before, and I wondered why they do it.
While its rivals worked on foliation,
Magnolia's flowers stole the show.
It is an ancient genus, some members of its broader family dating from about 95 million years ago according to fossil records. That means they existed before bees showed up in Earth's stew of life. So perhaps that was the plant's first incentive to be creative, having to figure out how to attract beetles and other walking, crawling insects to pollinate it.
One way it gained a competitive edge over other plants was to pour all its spring energy into its flowers. This way, while its rivals worked on foliation, Magnolia's flowers stole the show. And to a bug, if one tree is sprinkled with pretty little flowers here and there between its leaves, and another looks like one gigantic flower, where are you going to go?
So, to this, the first blooming tree I've seen this long-overdue spring, thank you for that ancient ambition...and for luring this walking critter into the blushing center of your exuberant beauty!
|Magnolia x loebneri 'Merrill'|