Southern Magnolia

The Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) is the state flower of Louisiana. In Mississippi this tree species serves as both the state tree and state flower. The leaves of this tree are "leathery" (ie fairly thick and somewhat wavy) and measure about seven to nine inches long. This tree is an evergreen but the previous years leafs fold back, turn brown and then fall off after the new leaves grow out in the spring.
The creamy white flowers of the Southern Magnolia have a tulip like shape that grows upright or at a slight angle. As the large round petals fold back they reveal the "fruit" that will grow into a pear sized seed pod.
Eventually as the soft white petals turn a sort of tan color and fall off leaving only the newly forming "fruit" in the place of the flower.
It is not uncommon for this seed pod to be confused for some sort of exotic edible fruit by those who are not familiar with this tree species. From this picture below you can see how the seed pod of the Southern Magnolia could be mistakenly identified as a tropical fruit.
This tropical fruit looking seed pod then undergoes a radical transformation as a number are bright red seeds begin to emerge from within as if they were being squeezed out and expelled. At the same time the pod begins to turn brown and dry up. Eventually a good number of the seeds will fall out and then the entire pod will snap off and fall to the ground although this may happen months later.

21 comments:

  1. Enchanting photographs!!! Magnolia's ROCK!!! This is the first time I've seen the blossoms. No wonder they are written about in fiction. How romantic.

    JJ :D

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  2. Beautiful pictures and informative information. I didn't know that about magnolias.

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  3. I enjoyed the post. A huge old magnolia stands outside the room I surf from here in Rome, Georgia. It is in pictures of this house taken in 1918. The huge flowers have a lovely aroma especially from our upstairs porch. Though I curse it whenever I mow or rake, I love the messy old tree.

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  4. Silly question perhaps but do these trees ever produce thorns? I have what I thought...sure looks like one...a magnolia tree but I have found thorns?

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  5. I have never seen any Magnolia tree with thorns.

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  6. hello.

    any idea at all what this is? its in a neighbors yard in california and i cant figure out what the heck it is. =(

    thank you



    http://i515.photobucket.com/albums/t360/daugherty_bucket/alvinz143.jpg

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  7. Anonymous,
    I have no idea what the tree/plant is in your picture...sorry.
    Dan

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  8. following IKE, the squirrels and birds have flocked to my yard to eat the red seeds! even my pug enjoys scavenging for these tiny morsels (does not appear to be harmful)!

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  9. hello,

    Does anybody know if the seed are poisonous to humans?

    Would appreciate the answer a lot.
    Thank you

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  10. I live in Rome. We are now full of these cones and seeds in the garden. Our dogs spend hours extracting and eating the pods/red fruits. I would love to know if they are safe for humans...they smell citrusy and wonderful.

    Olga

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  11. A while ago when I was in California I picked withered red fruits from a small tree I found growing on a college campus. I decided to sample them, since I'd never heard anything about them being poisonous. To my surprise I discovered the fruits had a delicate unique flavor unlike anything I've ever tried before. They were not sweet. I didn't get sick either.
    I suppose you could sample a few of them but it would be best to err on the side of caution and not eat a whole lot at once. They're mostly a giant seed so their culinary applications would be limited.

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  12. magnolia trees now abound in the area of st louis Missouri where they were formerly very rare. i love to pick up the magnolia pods and place them in a decorative basket on my dining room table. everyone wants to know what they are! i've even dusted them with spray glue and glitter. very pretty! i, too, wonder if the brightly colored seeds are edible for humans. they LOOK tasty.

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  13. I have one of these trees in my backyard in central Florida near Orlando. It goes through the transformation described in the pictures above. Once the red seeds come out, a giant woodpecker shows up and gobbles a bunch every season, but it doesn't appear the local birds or raccoon eat them.

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  14. If you search the internet, you will find that both the flesh around the seed and the seed have potent phytochemicals, one, researchers say, can be used to treat anxiety and another suppresses cancer. I've made a mash of the flesh and seed in a blender with 40% ethanol and presently making a tincture. I've got two trees and loads of seeds. Strangely the tree in the front has a slightly different shape seed than the one in the back, but otherwise appear identical. Happy experimenting !
    Cheers.

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  15. Where did you find the information about the seeds containing phytochemicals? Im trying to research this and I can't find too much information, or its not well known yet. Im interested in the chemical structure of the seed and what its composed of. I have a huge southern magnolia tree in my back yard and my dog has been eating them, so I started to research the seeds. Thanks!

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  16. What is the best way to dispose of the seed pods? Can they be composted? And what about the magnolia leaves? They don't seem to break-down, so I have been throwing them out with other yard trash.

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  17. The leaves of the Southern Magnolia are very thick and leathery so I am imagine that they would take a lot longer than normal leaves to break down in a compost pile. I am sure that they would break down eventually though.

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  18. I have a very large (60 feet tall)magnolia tree in my yard. Recently the sewer line to my house had to be replaced. The trench they dug cut through many of the roots in fact that is what broke and clogged the sewer. I am worried about the tree is there anything I can do to insure it's continued health?

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  19. Still don't know if magnolia fruit is edible by humans by reading the blogs. Anybody really know?

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  20. yeah i found a whole lot of the seeds in Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia and at first mistook them for red kidney beans till i saw they were from trees around 60 ft tall. still can't find anything on whether or not they're edible :/

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