Magnificently Magnolia

Magnolia grandiflora ‘D.D. Blanchard’
Southern Magnolia

The magnolia trees are beginning to bloom throughout the Gardens. You can find many trees in the historic Olmsted Gardens, at Pinewood Estate and sprinkled in less-traveled areas like the Olmsted House. The gorgeous white blooms signal the end of spring and the beginning of summer. The emerald green leaves are often used to decorate portions of Pinewood Estate during the Holiday Home Tour.

Perhaps one of the most iconic southern trees behind the Live Oak (Quercus Virginian), the southern magnolia is Mississippi’s state tree and has been grown as an ornamental tree for over three hundred years. The first incidence of its use ornamentally coming from Pierre Magnol, who transplanted specimens to Europe after gaining an appreciation of the tree. Andrew Jackson had a southern magnolia moved from his home in Tennessee to the White House in memory of his wife and the tree has been a favorite of presidential families for over 200 years. Read more about the Jackson Magnolia Tree.

Medicinally speaking magnolias are known to possess antioxidants, among other medicinal uses. They has also been used by the timber industry, where the wood is used primarily for furniture.
While the story of the southern magnolia is fascinating, today we will narrow our focus to Magnolia grandiflora ‘D.D. Blanchard’. This cultivar was selected at Robbins Nursery in Willard, North Carolina. A unique selection, with large dark green leaves on the top, the underside takes the appearance of oxidized iron. Pyramidal to rounded in form, it typically reaches fifty feet at maturity, though there are accounts of ‘D.D. Blanchard’ reaching over seventy-five feet in height at maturity. ‘D.D. Blanchard’ has large fragrant blossoms, that can be over 8 inches in width. Magnolia grandiflora and Magnolia virginiana are the only two native evergreen magnolia species in the United States.

The genus name honors Pierre Magnol, who was French botanist (1638-1715), and was instrumental in raising the awareness of this wonderful genus of trees. The specific epithet comes from Latin and means large flowers.

This blog post was written by Brendan Huggins, Director of Horticulture and photographed by Cassidy Jones, Social Media Coordinator.

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