The Louisiana State Flower
The beautiful Magnolia is the State Flower of Louisiana. In summertime, the numerous magnolia trees throughout the state burst into bloom, the large, showy white blossoms spreading beauty and fragrance throughout the region.
The Magnolia Tree
The southern magnolia tree (Magnolia grandiflora) is a hardwood tree of fifty to eighty feet in height, and thirty to fifty feet in width. It grows throughout the southeastern United States and is valued for its beautiful flowers and the shade it provides.
Other names for this tree include evergreen magnolia, big laurel, little gem, large flower magnolia, or bull-bay. It is a beautiful ornamental evergreen tree, with leathery dark green shiny leaves and large white and very fragrant blossoms that are anywhere from six to ten inches wide.
Official State Flower of Louisiana
On July 12, 1900, the magnolia became the Official State Flower of Louisiana, when Act No. 156 was approved by the Louisiana General Assembly. However, a specific variety of magnolia was not named.
Description and Characteristics
The Society For Louisiana Irises Is Formed
In 1941, a group of Iris lovers started an Iris Society. By 1948, the group had grown to 185 members, and the name was changed to the Society for Louisiana Irises.
They worked hard to make the iris the Louisiana State Flower, by changing it from the magnolia. To keep peace with the Magnolia lovers, legislation was proposed to make the Magnolia the Louisiana State Tree.
Magnolia Vs. Iris For Official State Flower
The ongoing dispute between the iris people and the advocates of the magnolia sometimes flourished passionately. The iris was called a 'swamp growing flower'.
One magnolia supporter claimed that the rest of the country already thought that people in Louisiana lived in houses in swamps, up on stilts, and had an alligator for a watchdog. By making the iris the state flower of Louisiana, he proclaimed, that erroneous assumption of Louisiana's residents would just be perpetuated.
The magnolia was referred to as a plant that grew throughout the south, that it was nothing special and was not indigenous to Louisiana. In fact, Mississippi made the magnolia their Official State Flower in 1952.
Magnolia Remains the Official State Flower
The iris was not to become the Official State Flower of Louisiana, and the beloved magnolia remains in that spot, more than 100 years later. In 1990, however, the iris finally got redemption, in that it was named the Official Wildflower of Louisiana.
Cultivation and Care
The large flowers appear in May and June, with more flowers appearing sporadically throughout the summer. The flowers are pollinated by several different types of beetles.
The magnolia flowers do not produce nectar, but they do produce large amounts of pollen, which is high in protein and used by the beetles as food. The flowers appear
The magnolia is usually a very hardy tree, not succumbing to many problems from either pests or diseases, but grows best in the warmer states.
The magnolia produces a fruit, a fragrant soft cone that drops seeds that feed birds, opossums, squirrels and other wildlife. Although the magnolia seeds are bitter tasting to people, songbirds love them. The flavorful magnolia flower petals are used to make tea, however.
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