Walking in the Flagstaff Gardens a couple of days ago, I became aware of a delicious floral scent. Nothing was apparent int eh immediate vicinity, so I looked further afield and about 60 metres away there was a magnificent specimen of Magnolia laevifolia in bloom, perfuming the atmosphere for several tens of metres around it.
The province of Yunnan, the native home of Magnolia laevifolia, is one of China's richest botanical areas. The size of California, Yunnan has great variety in elevation from valley and plateau to high mountain, resulting in many different microclimates. Half of all the plants found in China grow there.
Magnolia laevifolia grows as a small tree bearing multitudes of golden buds. Unlike other magnolia relatives, the buds form in the leaf axils and along the stem. The bright, hairy bud scales (perules) split off at blooming time to reveal an ivory flower with "butter-yellow stamens like lashes opening to the sun," described one grower. The waxy, chalice-like flower has a delicate perfume, and can bloom from mid-winter and continue late into the autumn.
The leaves are oval-shaped and tough with a golden edge.There are 41 species of what was once called Michelia in China (all of which have been lumped into the genus Magnolia), and 23 of these grow in Yunnan. Some are two hundred years old and grow at altitudes as high as 9000 feet, far higher than other varieties of magnolias can survive.
This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.