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Currently sold out of magnolias for 2017
Availability for 2018: Butterflies, Vulcan, Cleopatra, Galaxy, Black Tulip, Blushing Belle, Yellow Bird, Elizabeth... more anticipated.
The magnolia tree has been found in fossils dating back 36 million to 58 million years ago. Theories believe that the Ice Age that struck much of Europe destroyed the magnolia in the region; however, the magnolias of Asia and the Americas survived. The discovery of fossilized remains of magnolia trees indicate that they date back to the Tertiary Period, which possibly is an unbelievable 100 million years earlier. This proves that these plants are real survivors, having endured numerous adverse conditions. During the Tertiary Period, the Arctic Circle was not what it is today, but its climatic conditions were similar to what is prevalent in Europe now.
The earliest western record of magnolias in cultivation is found in Aztec history at the time of Montezuma where there are illustrations of what we now know to be the very rare Magnolia dealbata. This plant survives only in a few places in the wild and, although climate change is largely to blame, the natives cut the flowers for festivals and this prevents the plants seeding. It was found by a Spanish explorer called Hernandez who was commissioned by Philip II of Spain and whose work was published in 1651.
According to the University of Florida, the first magnolia tree was discovered by Europeans in 1688 in the Americas. The Sweet Bay Magnolia was the species found and first introduced to Europe. This species was named Pierre Magnol after a 17th century French botanist when first introduced to Europe. Numerous Asian magnolia species were first introduced to the Americas in 1780. Cultivation of the magnolia became widespread and numerous species began to be bred that offered superior flower production. Magnolias trees were commonly planted in front of homesteads across the southern United States for their beauty.
Some of the earliest references to magnolias in literature refer to their purported medicinal properties. The bark and flower buds of magnolia from Magnolia officinalis has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine. They have demonstrated anti-anxiety and anti-angiogenic properties. The flower buds of magnolia salicifolia are used in Asia to treat headaches and allergies. A 1985 study reports on the potential use of this drug in the treatment of cancer. Another recent study found that tonics from the bark of Magnolia officinalis lessen tremor in patients with Parkinsons disease. Who knows what may yet be discovered.
It is interesting to note that magnolias emerged much before bees existed; hence, the blooms of magnolia were pollinated by beetles. Since magnolias are ancient plants, magnolias slowly changed their flowers to become more attractive to bees to ensure successful pollination and now bees are the main pollinators. The seed of the magnolia is the favorite of many birds and squirrels and currently acts as another pollinator as well.