Tuesday, 23 April 2013


Visiting friends in Lower Boddington yesterday I took the opportunity to photograph their wonderful Magnolia. It was a specimen of (probably) Magnolia stellata and its pink-tinged petals suggested that it was the variety "Rosea". The reason I am slightly doubtful is the fact that the species seldom exceeds 3 metres in height; at something nearer 4 metres, this was a very fine example.
Maagnolia stellata flowers. Lower Boddington.
22 April, 2013
Magnolia stellata(?). Lower Boddington, Northants
22 April, 2013

I would have looked in vain for bees visiting the flowers. Magnolias are particularly ancient trees, with fossil evidence showing that they were around in the Cretaceous period, 125 million years ago. Bees were not to appear for another 25 million years so no Magnolias have evolved nectar. The flowers are pollinated but the task is performed by beetles, content to feed on the pollen.

Lovely though Magnolias are, with Magnolia soulangiana being deservedly popular, I have a slight preference for their close relatives, Liriodendrons. In his story, "The Gold Bug", Edgar Allan Poe features an "enormously tall tulip-tree". He was referring to Liriodendron tulipifera, one of only two species in this genus. Poe's species is a native of the U.S.A; the other species, Liriodendron chinense is found - as you will have surmised - in China. This peculiar distribution reflects a time when the earth's land-masses did not occupy their present positions. A lovely specimen of Liriodendron tulipifera stood, until recently, in Byfield, at the junction of Bell Lane and Westhorpe Lane, but has unfortunately been felled. In fairness it has to be said that this species can become very large and the specimen could have become a problem.

An unusual Magnolia species on sale at a
Daventry garden centre. 26 April, 2013

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