The magnolia tree flower – sometimes referred to by its scientific name, magnolia grandiflora or common names of Southern magnolia or bull bay – is a single species in the magnoliaceae family, and is native to regions of the southeastern United States. The tough, leathery evergreen leaves of this tree surround the waxy white blossoms, which burst forth from the tips of twigs in early spring. The magnolia tree flower tends toward a rounded, saucer shape and generally measures 12 inches around. Although other species of the magnolia genus may vary in color, the magnolia grandiflora only comes in a creamy white hue.
Despite the fact that today these blooms have become very popular all over the world, the magnolia tree flower is one of the few plants that actually originated in the United States. Their roots also extend to parts of Asia; however, their earliest distribution to other parts of the world – such as Europe – began in America. In 1688 the first live magnolia was introduced to Britain by the clergyman John Banister – who was an avid student of botany. By 1737, the growth of magnolia grandiflora was in full swing, and the well known botanical artist Georg Ehret became a magnolia enthusiast – walking three miles every morning just to study the buds blooming. As well as having a long and interesting history, the magnolia tree flower is also said to be very useful. The bark of the tree is most commonly used – generally for curing skin conditions, but also for heart and respiration ailments – however, the flowers themselves are frequently used as a rejuvenating essential oil for baths, soaps and candles; they may be pickled and eaten or dried and used as a spice, and they may also be seen as the strong floral note of many perfumes.
To some, the magnolia tree flower is considered the “symbol of the South.” To others, though, they represent perseverance, sweetness and nobility – while the magnolia tree as a whole is considered to be an emblem of dignity. As a gift, these flowers are often given to represent a struggle that has been overcome, poise in the face of adversity, or as a simple token of respect and admiration. Although these flowers may be given in classic bouquets, they may also be presented as single cut pieces, or – for the gardening fanatic – as young, potted plants that may planted into the ground at a later date.