Magnolia Family

Trees (rarely shrubs or vines, never so ours). Bark bitter and aromatic. Leaf buds covered by membranous or tough stipules. Leaves deciduous or evergreen, simple, alternate, pinnately-veined. Flowers perfect, solitary or clustered, usually large and showy, often fragrant, regular, perfect, floral axis typically elongate. Sepals 3 or more, petals 3 to many, perianth segments often similar, deciduous, imbricate in bud; stamens many, linear, anthers not well differentiated from filaments, deciduous, spirally arranged; gynoecium superior, carpels free (at least at maturity), spirally arranged and covering the long receptacle; each carpel with 1 or 2 ovules, style and stigma often somewhat poorly developed; fruiting structure a woody, conelike aggregate of follicles or samaras.

This primitive family has 7 genera and 200 species; 3 genera and 4 species in TX; 2 genera, each with one species possible in our area. Many species in this family are cultivated as ornamentals (especially the two described below) or for timber.

Key to Genera of the Magnoliaceae:

Return to BOTN 201 or the key to dicot families

1. LIRIODENDRON L. Tulip-tree, Tulip-poplar, Yellow Poplar

Two species, one in the SE. U.S., the other in China. In our area the trees are not native; however ornamentals are sometimes found abandoned or persisting.

1. L. tulipifera L. Deciduous tree to 60 m or more. Trunk straight, to 3 m in diam., bark gray. Leaves stipulate, long-petioled, to 20 cm long and about as wide, tulip- or mitten-shaped: broadly retuse-truncate apically and with 2 acute lobes on each side (occasionally with additional smaller lobes or entire), base cordate to truncate, glabrous, somewhat aromatic. Flowers solitary at the ends of the branches. Sepals 3, pale green, 3.5 to 6 cm long, soon reflexed; petals 6, forming a cup, 4 to 5 cm long, green-yellow, with a large orange blotch a the base of each; stamens many, anthers extrorse. Receptacle elongate, persistent; carpels many, coherent in bud, separating at maturity into woody, flattened, deciduous samaras 2.5 o 4.5 cm long; fruiting structure overall 3 to 5 cm long. Rich woods. FL to LA, N. to DE, MI, MO; becoming naturalized in E. TX. Spring. This handsome tree is valued for its ornamental flowers and leaves. The wood is used for furniture, being similar to birch in grain but not as hard.

2. MAGNOLIA L. Magnolia

Characters as described for the family. Leaves entire. Sepals 3; petals 6 to 12. Fruit an aggregate of follicles, seeds arillate, often pendant on long funicular threads.

About 125 species, primarily in Asia. There a 4 species native to TX and one that may be found in our area.

1. M. grandiflora L. Southern Magnolia, Bull Bay. Pyramidal tree to 30 m tall. Trunk straight, bark smooth. Branchlets, buds, and petioles rusty-pubescent. Leaves evergreen but falling a few at a time throughout the year, elliptic, 10 to 30 cm long, 4 to 15 cm wide, rounded to acute apically, cuneate at the base, glabrous and glossy above, rusty-tomentose below, very leathery. Petioles to ca. 4 cm long. Flowers large, to 20 cm broad, cup-shape, fragrant, bud coverings leather and densely rusty-pubescent. Sepals 3, petalloid; petals 6 to 9 or 12, obovate to spatulate, 5 to 10 cm long and about as wide; filaments sometimes purplish. Fruiting structure ovoid in outline, 6 to 10 cm long and 5 to 6 cm broad, an aggregate of follicles, pubescent; seeds 1 or 2 per follicle, red obovoid, somewhat flattened or angled, ca. 1 to 2 cm long, hanging by a funicular attachment. Low, rich woods, especially near streams. E. and SE. TX, usually cultivated in our area but apparently persisting; VA to NC, SC, and FL, W. to LA and TX. July-Aug.

Cultivated for its beautiful flowers and foliage and its dense shade. The wood is used for furniture and railroad ties.

Last updated by HDW . on 3 February 1995