My dad had bought a flower-sketching book for my sister and me and we used to sketch out the different exotic flowers from the book. One flower that always fascinated me was the Magnolia flower, which occupied the whole page and was beautiful in the black and white sketch. I knew that Magnolia tree was a native of Southeast of USA and there was very remote chance of me ever seeing the tree.
Few years back, when my sister visited India, we made a trip to Ooty and visited our favorite place, the Botanical gardens. To my surprise, my sister pointed out to a tree and exclaimed that it was a Magnolia tree in bloom! I stood mesmerized seeing the beautiful tree with the contrasting white flowers, recomposed myself and clicked pictures to my heart’s content.
The botanical name is Magnolia Granediflora belonging to the Magnoliaceae* family. This tree existed even before the Bees came into existence. The flower is named after French botanist Pierre Magnol.
The leaves are dark green, thick with rubbery, texture. This evergreen tree can grow to a height of 80 to 90 feet. The one in Ooty was only 20 feet in height.
The Magnolia flowers are fragrant and large almost 10-12 inches wide. The flowers have 15 petals and look like lotus growing on a tree. Hence it is known as Oothambal in Manipuri meaning Tree Lotus and is offered to gods during puja rituals. The flowers are in white, pink, yellow and purple. The pink variety is known as Saucer Magnolia. The fruits are 2 to 4 inch in length and are reddish brown.
The trees are planted to beautify cities in the US.
*Magnoliaceae, or Magnolia Family, is a flowering plant family