Magnolia

Botanical Name: Magnolia acuminata, Magnolia virginiana
Family: Magnoliaceae
Genus: Magnolia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Magnoliales
Synonyms: CucumberTree. Magnoliae cortex. Blue Magnolia. Swamp Sassafras. Magnolia Tripetata.
Parts Used: Bark of stem and root.
Habitat: North America. The natural range of Magnolia species is rather scattered and includes eastern North America, Central America and the West Indies and east and southeast Asia. Some species are found in South America. Today many species of Magnolia and an ever increasing number of hybrids can also be found as ornamental trees in large parts of North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The genus is named after French botanist Pierre Magnol, from Montpellier. See Origin of the name Magnolia.

Description :The genus is named in commemoration of Pierre Magnol, a famous professor of medicine and botany of Montpellier in the early eighteenth century. All its members are handsome, with luxuriant foliage and rich flowers. The leaves of Magnolia acuminata are oval, about 6 inches long by 3 broad, and slightly hairy below, with a diameter of 6 inches, and the fruit or cone, about 3 inches long, resembles a small cucumber.
It is a large tree, reaching a height of 80 or more feet and a diameter of 3 to 5 feet, but only grows to about 16 feet in England. The wood is finely grained, taking a brilliant polish, and in its colour resembles that of the tulip or poplar, but it is less durable. It is sometimes used for large canoes and house interiors.

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The bark of the young wood is curved or quilled, fissured outside, with occasional warts, and orange-brown in colour, being whitish and smooth within and the fracture short except for inner fibres. The older bark without the corky layer is brownish or whitish and fibrous. Drying and age cause the loss of its volatile, aromatic property.

Magnolia is an ancient genus. Having evolved before bees appeared, the flowers developed to encourage pollination by beetles. As a result, the carpels of Magnolia flowers are tough, to avoid damage by eating and crawling beetles. Fossilised specimens of M. acuminata have been found dating to 20 million years ago, and of plants identifiably belonging to the Magnoliaceae dating back to 95 million years ago. Another primitive aspect of Magnolias is their lack of distinct sepals or petals. The term tepal has been coined to refer to the intermediate element that Magnolia has instead. Magnolias are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Giant Leopard Moth.

Magnolia grandiflora is the official state flower of both Mississippi and Louisiana. The flower’s abundance in Mississippi is reflected in its state nickname, “Magnolia State”. The magnolia is also the official state tree of Mississippi.

One of the oldest nicknames for Houston, Texas Is “The Magnolia City” due to the abundance of Magnolia Trees growing along Buffalo Bayou.

Magnolia flowers may be white, pink or purple. Size ranges from 3 to 5 inch in diameter. Some species of mangolia have strap – shaped petals depending on the species.Mangolia seeds may remain dormant for many years (15 to 20 years).Mangolia flowers are protogynous ,apearing with or before the leaves.The tapals of mangolias are 9-15.Stems are present on elongate torus.early decidous; filemants white or purple,very short: another introrse or latrorse.

Origin of the name Magnolia
In 1703 Charles Plumier (1646-1704) described a flowering tree from the island of Martinique in his Genera. He gave the species, known locally as ‘Talauma’, the genus name Magnolia, after Pierre Magnol. The English botanist William Sherard, who studied botany in Paris under Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, a pupil of Magnol, was most probably the first after Plumier to adopt the genus name Magnolia. He was at least responsible for the taxonomic part of Johann Jacob Dillenius‘s Hortus Elthamensis and of Mark Catesby’s famous Natural history of Carolina. These were the first works after Plumier’s Genera that used the name Magnolia, this time for some species of flowering trees from temperate North America.

Carolus Linnaeus, who was familiar with Plumier’s Genera, adopted the genus name Magnolia in 1735 in his first edition of Systema naturae, without a description but with a reference to Plumier’s work. In 1753, he took up Plumier’s Magnolia in the first edition of Species plantarum. Since Linnaeus never saw a herbarium specimen (if there has ever been one) of Plumier’s Magnolia and had only his description and a rather poor picture at hand, he must have taken it for the same plant which was described by Catesby in his 1730 ‘Natural History of Carolina, and placed it in the synonymy of Magnolia virginiana variety foetida, the taxon now known as Magnolia grandiflora.

The species that Plumier originally named Magnolia was later described as Annona dodecapetala by Lamarck, and has since been named Magnolia plumieri and Talauma plumieri (and still a number of other names) but is now known as Magnolia dodecapetala.

Constituents: The bark has no astringency. The tonic properties are found in varying degree in several species.

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Medicinal Action and Uses:
The bark from M. officinalis has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is known as houpu. In Japan, M. obovata has been used in a similar manner. The aromatic bark contains magnolol and honokiol, two polyphenolic compounds that have demonstrated anti-anxiety and anti-angiogenic properties. Magnolia bark also has been shown to reduce allergic and asthmatic reactions.

Magnolia has attracted the interest of the dental research community because magnolia bark extract inhibits many of the bacteria responsible for caries and periodontal disease. In addition, the constituent magnolol interferes with the action of glucosyltransferase, an enzyme needed for the formation of bacterial plaque.

A mild diaphoretic, tonic, and aromatic stimulant. It is used in rheumatism and malaria and is contra-indicated in inflammatory symptoms. In the Alleghany districts the cones are steeped in spirits to make a tonic tincture.

A warm infusion is laxative and sudorific, a cold one being antiperiodic and mildly tonic.

Dosage: Fluid Extract. Frequent doses of 1/2 to 1 drachm, or the infusion in wineglassful doses.

Other Species:
Both M. virginiana and M. tripetala were recognized as official with M. acuminata.

M. virginiana, or M. glauca, White Laurel, Beaver Tree, Swamp Sassafras, White Bay, Sweet Bay, Small or Laurel Magnolia, or Sweet Magnolia, is much used by beavers, who favour it both as food and building material. The light wood has no commercial use.

The bark and seed cones are bitter and aromatic, used as tonics, and in similar ways to M. acuminata. The leaves yield a green, volatile oil with a more pleasant odour than fennel or anise. There is probably also a bitter glucosidal principle.
Other Uses:
In general, Magnolia is a genus which has attracted a lot of horticultural interest. Hybridisation has been immensely successful in combining the best aspects of different species to give plants which flower at an earlier age than the species themselves, as well as having more impressive flowers. One of the most popular garden magnolias is a hybrid, M. x soulangeana (Saucer magnolia; hybrid M. liliiflora x M. denudata).

M. tripetala, Umbrella Tree or Umbrella Magnolia. The fruit yields a neutral crystalline principle, Magnolin.

The bark, if chewed as a substitute for tobacco, is said to cure the habit.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/magnol03.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnolia
http://www.theflowerexpert.com/content/giftflowers/flowersandfragrances/magnolia

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