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The magnolia tree is a fixture in the southern states of the U.S. and when it blooms it is a harbinger that spring has finally arrived. The magnolia flower is beautiful and has been given special meaning over the years. The magnolia flower represents "splendid beauty and dignity" and it is a welcome sight throughout the countryside. The magnolia tree was named after a French botanist from the 1600s named Pierre Magnol, and is a tree that has 90 different species in the U.S. alone
The magnolia flower has been associated with beauty and perseverance, as well as dignity and nobility. The symbolic meaning of flower species has been passed down from generation to generation and arose from fables and legends connected to the flower. Unfortunately many of the origins of these meanings have been lost over time and such is the case with the magnolia. The magnolia has also been said to symbolize sweetness and a love for nature.
The most famous magnolia is a species known as Magnolia grandiflora. It has the trademark large flowers and leaves that are best described as leathery in texture. This species of magnolia begins to bud as early as the end of March in regions of the Deep South and has flowers by the middle of April. The flowers bloom later in the spring the farther north you go in the U.S. The flowers in the south are long gone by time July arrives. Their flowers are so popular that it is easy to see how they are associated with a love of nature. Known as one of the prettiest of all flowers, the magnolia symbolizing "splendid beauty" is a perfect match. While other flowers have a meaning denoting such facets of beauty as "intellectual beauty" and "pensive beauty" the magnolia alone is singled out for its "splendid" beauty, so vibrant in its appearance.
The Magnolia grandiflora flower starts out as a small bud at the tip of a branch, which often becomes a meal for squirrels, who love the taste of them. It is enveloped in a brownish sheath which will fall away and reveal a blossom with as many as 14 petals. The magnolia petals will open in layers, shaped like a cup, and they are white with a yellow stamen in the center. As they age they slowly turn brown before falling away.
The magnolia tree is a native to the southeastern United States and Asia as well. It has been utilized for some time in the U.S. as an ornamental shade tree but it also is a good source of lumber. It can grow to heights of 90 feet and has some of the largest leaves of any tree, with some species having leaves that are 10 inches long. The magnolia flower can be 8 to 10 inches across. The height of the tree certainly has much to do with it being associated with dignity and nobility.
The magnolia tree is the official state tree of Mississippi, where it is found in great numbers. The flower is also the official state flower of Mississippi and Louisiana as well. Magnolias have had their range expanded because of their appeal and beauty, with various species now found all over the United States. In 1900 the Mississippi legislature held an election among school children to pick a state flower, with the magnolia winning in a landslide victory. Impressed with what the magnolia stood for, the state eventually designated it the official state flower.