Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Magnolia 'Little Gem'

Magnolia hybrid, likely Magnolia 'Little Gem,' in bloom at the Huntington Botanical Gardens. I have loved Magnolias since I first saw the double rows of them in bloom along University Avenue in Palo Alto, California. Their flowers are positively huge with a stiff leathery texture contrasted by their pristine white color and plastic-like stamens. These are particularly striking with their hot pink centers.

Apparently, ancient Magnolias evolved more than 20 million years ago, before bees became a major pollinator. Thus, the Magnolia evolved to be pollinated by beetles, including the heavy, leathery segments (tepals) that prevented significant beetle damage. You may see similarly tough flower segments among water lilies which are also pollinated by beetles.

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