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June 25, 2022

Magnolia Blossoms Blooming

Magnolias are in bloom around H’burg this week. Big leathery brown and green leaved trees send out magnificent white-petaled blooms, usually marking the beginnings of Spring. Yet flowering in our nearby magnolia is happening late this year. Its emerging blooms, tightly wound, are only now revealing their majesty. These extravagant flowers, pearly white, last a short time before petals turn brown, as if the tree’s green and brown leaves foretell their future. While blooming white, magnolia flowers give off a delightful aroma in the warming air of Spring. Here, just a single flower makes an arrangement and perfumes the room. The scent of magnolias is compared to the smell of champagne, each elegant in its own way. 

Fun facts: Magnolias (Magnolia virginiana) were discovered in the West Indies; the trees can be deciduous or evergreen; they are among the most ancient of trees; magnolias existed in Asia, Europe and the Americas over 100 million years ago, per the fossil record; there are about 180,000 species; considered an emblem of purity in Asian culture, the blossoms are used for herbal teas, and the bark is used as a medicinal digestive and sleep aid; named by Carl Linneaus after the French botanist Pierre Magnol, the tree was later memorialized for the ’60s generation by the Grateful Dead’s song, “Sugar Magnolia,” released on the American Beauty album in 1970; “Sugar Magnolia” is the second most played song at the Grateful Dead’s concerts; the iconic line from the song, “jumps like a Willys in four-wheel drive,” actually refers to a feature of Willys jeeps, which were reputed to “leap” off the ground if one “popped the clutch” in four-wheel drive; the Willys-Overland Motors company was formed in 1912, from a merger with Overland Automotive, founded in 1908, one of the earliest automotive manufacturers.

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