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Deritations. The specific name, auriculata, is derived from the Latin
auris, the ear, from the rounded lobes of the leaves, resembling ears. The French name is a translation of the botanic one. The German name signifies Eared Beaver-tree. It is called Long-leaved Cucumber-iree from the length of its leaves, and the form of its fruit; and Indian Physic, because it was much used by the aborigines as medicine.
Engravings. Michaux, North American Sylva, pl. 56; Loudon, Arboretum Britannicum, V., pl. 10; and the figures below. Specific Characters. Deciduous. Leaves smooth, under surface somewhat glaucous, spathulately obovate, cordate at the base, with blunt approximate auricles. Sepals 3, spreading. Petals 9, oblong.–Don, Miller's Dict.
HE Magnolia auriculata is
remarkable for the beauty
its flowers, and the fragrance of their odour. It attains a height of thirty or forty feet, with a straight trunk, twelve or fifteen inches in diameter, often undivided for half of its length. The branches spread widely, and ramify but sparingly, with their extremities turned upwards, which circumstances give the tree a peculiar air, so that it may readily be known at a distance, even in winter. The bark is gray, and always smooth, even on the oldest trees, except on the young shoots, which are of a purplish-red, dotted with white. When the epidermis is removed, the cellular integument, by contact with the air, instantly changes from white to yellow. The leaves are of a light-green colour, of a fine texture, eight or nine inches long, and from four to six inches broad. On young and vigorous trees, they are often one third, or even one half larger. They are smooth on both surfaces, acuminate at the summit, widest near the top, and narrowest towards the bottom. The base is divided into rounded lobes, one on each side of the insertion of the petiole. They have short footstalks, sitting near each other, and radiate in regular order, with their margins touching or slightly overlapping each other, like an umbrella. The flowers, which open in April and May, are three or four inches in diameter, of a milky white, and are situated at the extremities of the young shoots. The fruit is oval, three or four inches long, and, like the Magnola umbrella, of a beautiful rose-colour, when ripe. It differs from the fruit of the other species, by a little inferiority of size, and by a small appendage which terminates the carpels. Each carpel contains two seeds, which, when ripe, spring from their cells, and are suspended, for a time, by a white, silky thread.
Varieties. A tree nearly allied to this species was discovered by John Bartram, in the maritime parts of Georgia, particularly on the banks of the Altamaha, and was subsequently found by Mr. John Le Conte, in the western parts of Carolina and Georgia. It so closely resembles the Magnolia auriculata, except in size, which is much less, that it is regarded by most botanists as only a variety. It is usually described under the name of Magnolia pyramidata. The tree, according to Bartram, grows straight and erect, thirty feet or more in height, and of a sharp, conical form, much resembling the Magnolia acuminata in figure. It was first introduced into England in 1818, by John Lyon, and the original tree still exists in the nursery of Messrs. Loddiges. It is extremely difficult to propagate, which is done by inarching on the Magnolia auriculata.
Geography and History. The Magnolia auriculata, in its natural habitat, appears to be chiefly confined to a particular part of the Alleghanies. According to Michaux, it is nowhere found so abundant as on the steepest parts of the lofty mountains of North Carolina, known by the name of the Great Father, and Black Iron Mountains. It is sometimes found, however, on the steep banks of the rivers which rise in the Alleghanies, and on one side, roll their waters into the Atlantic, and on the other, to meet the Ohio.
This tree was discovered by John Bartram, from whom it was first received in England by Messrs. Loddiges, in 1786, and still exists in their nursery at Hackney. It was, probably, soon afterwards sent to France; because we find Madame Lemonnier, the widow of Michaux's patron and friend, describing a tree of this species, in her garden, in 1800, which was nine feet high, and had already flowered.
There is a Magnolia auriculata in the Bartram botanic garden, at Kingsessing, on the Schuylkill, fifty feet in height, with a trunk four feet in circumference. In the garden of Mr. D. Landreth, of Philadelphia, there is also another tree of this species, twenty-five years planted, thirty feet in height, with a trunk a foot in diameter.
The largest Magnolia auriculata in England is at White Knight's, which has been planted about forty years, and is more than thirty feet in height. There are several in the gardens about Paris, and some at Scéaux, which have attained a height of more than twenty feet.
Soil and Situation. The soil of the Alpine regions, of which this species is a native, is brown, deep, and of an excellent quality. The atmosphere in these situations, is continually charged with moisture, from the number of torrents which rush down from their summits. When cultivated, the soil should be free and deep, and the situation low, sheltered, and moist, rather than dry.
Propagation and Culture. As seeds are rather difficult to procure, the common mode of propagation is by layers, or by inarching on the Magnolia acuminata, which requires two years before the plant can be separated from the parent shoot. From the account given by Michaux, the Magnolia auriculata is found to multiply so fast from seeds, that, in its native forests, a thousand plants might be collected in a single day. Hence, the propagation of this species from seeds would be far preferable to any other mode. In England, annual shoots of young plants are from one to two feet or more, in length; and the height which the tree usually attains in ten years is from ten to fifteen feet.
Properties and Uses. The wood of the Magnolia auriculata is sost, spongy, and very light, and when dry, weighs only twenty-four pounds to a cubic foot. The bark has an agreeable, aromatic odour, and an infusion of it in some spirituous liquor, is employed as an excellent sudorific in rheumatic affections.
DE CANDOLLE, Prodromus.
Derivations. The Chinese name, Yu lan, signifies the Lily-tree, from the resemblance of the flowers of this species to the lily.
Engravings. London Botanical Magazine, pl. 1621 ; Loudon, Arboretum Britannicum, figure 34, vol. i., and pl. 12, vol. v.; and the figures below. Specific Characters. Deciduous. Leaves obovate, abrubtly acuminated, younger ones pubescent, expanding after the flowers. Flowers erect, 6—9-petaled. Styles erect.— Don, Miller's Dict.
HE Magnolia conspicua, as
and distinguishable from all others of the genus by the expanding of the flowers before any of the leaves. A full-grown tree, in its native country, is said to attain a height of forty or fifty feet, and it has arrived at nearly the same elevation in Europe and America. It assumes a regular, conical shape, with numerous branches and twigs, which generally have a vertical, rather than a horizontal direction; so that a large tree of this species, would probably be more fastigiate than any of its congeners. This tree, as well as those native of Asia generally, differs from the American species in having two opposite spathe-like bracteas enclosing the flower-buds, with ovaries somewhat distant, and in having anthers bursting inwards. In young trees, the leaves are from six to eight inches in length, and from three to four inches broad. The flowers, which put forth in March, April or May, are of a milky whiteness, from six to eight inches in diameter, and emit a powerful odour. The fruit, which is of a deep-red colour, is of an irregular form, three or four inches in length, and often assumes fantastic shapes. It contains from one to four seeds, which usually mature, near New York, early in October. It is observed that at least one half of these seeds, when sown, prove abortive.
Varieties. This species has ripened seeds in various parts of Europe, and in the United States; and as it fertilizes readily with the Magnolia purpurea and gracilis, several varieties have already been produced, and many more may be expected. The two following are particularly worthy of cultivation :
i. M. c. SOULANGEANA, Loudon. Soulange's Conspicuous-flowered Magnolią.
A notice of this variety will be found under the head of history. The chief difference between this tree and the species, consists in its leaves being larger and more pointed, its flowers marked with purple within, and its fruit larger and containing more seeds.
2. M. C. ALEXANDRINA, Loudon. The Empress Alexandrina's Conspicuousflowered Magnolia. This variety so closely resembles the preceding, that it cannot be distinguished, except in flowering somewhat earlier.
Geography and History. The Magnolia conspicua is said to be indigenous to the southern provinces of China; and to be extensively cultivated there in the gardens of the emperor, and in those of all eminent persons, who can afford to procure it. It began to be cultivated in that country in the year 627, from which time it has always held the very first rank, as an ornamental tree, in their gardens, and is regarded by the Chinese poets as the symbol of candour and beauty. It is not only planted in the open grounds, and allowed to attain its full size, but dwarfs are kept in pots and boxes, and forced throughout the year, so as to keep up a perpetual supply of bloom in the apartments of the imperial palace. So highly is this tree valued, that a plant in flower, presented to the emperor, is thought a handsome present. In very severe winters, the trunks of the trees in the open air are sometimes wrapped round with straw ropes; but it never requires any other protection, even in the climate of Pekin.
The tree was first introduced into England by Sir Joseph Banks, in 1789; but it was many years before it attracted much attention, being considered merely as a green-house, or conservatory plant. Within the last twenty years, it has been discovered to be nearly as hardy as the American magnolias, and is now most extensively cultivated in the nurseries of Britain, continental Europe, and the United States. It flowers freely every year, as a standard in the neighbourhood of London, New York, and Philadelphia, when the wood has been properly ripened during the preceding summer; and at White Knights, in England; at Fromont, and various other places in France; and at Monza, in Italy, and Brooklyn, in New York, it has ripened seeds from which young plants have been raised.
At Fromont, near Paris, in front of the chateau of M. Soulange-Bodin, stands the largest plant of the Magnolia conspicua in Europe. It measures over forty feet in height, and twenty-four inches in circumference, two feet from the ground; and the diameter of the space covered by the branches is more than twenty-five feet. It flowers magnificently every year, at the end of March and beginning of April, and the perfume of its blossoms is perceived for some distance around. It was from the seeds of this tree that sprang the far-famed variety, Magnolia conspicua soulangeana, the leaves, wood, and general habits of which, are allied to those of the parent tree; but the flowers resemble in form those of the Magnolia purpurea, or of the Magnolia purpurea gracilis, and the petals are slightly tinged with purple. This variety was accidentally produced by fecundating the flowers of the Magnolia conspicua with the pollen of those of the Magnolia purpurea. The original plant of the Magnolia conspicua soulangeana, at Fromont, is more than twenty feet in height, and though it flowered several years before, it did not ripen seeds till 1834. The seeds have been sown, and some new and interesting varieties produced from them.
The largest Magnolia conspicua in England is at Eastwell Park, in Kent, which is reputed to be more than forty feet in height. An original imported plant, trained against a wall at Wormleybury, in England, measured twentyseven feet in height, covered a space laterally of twenty-four feet, and had on it, in April, 1835, five thousand flowers !
In the garden of Mr. William Davison, in Brooklyn, New York, there is a Magnolia conspicua, ten years planted, twenty-four feet in height, with a head eighteen feet in diameter, which, in April, 1845, contained six thousand flowers! In the same garden there is a Magnolia conspicua soulangeana ten years planted, twenty feet in height, with a head fourteen feet in diameter, which, in May, 1844, produced eight hundred flowers. Both of these trees ripened their seeds early in October of the same year.
Soil and Situation. A rich, sandy loam seems to suit this species best ; but it will grow in any deep, free soil, properly drained, and moderately enriched.
The situation, when it is to be treated as a standard, ought to be sufficiently open to admit of ripening the wood in autumn, and yet not so warm as to urge forward the flower-buds prematurely in spring, as they are very liable to be injured by frost, from which they should be protected by some kind of covering. The tree shows itself in its greatest beauty against a wall, where it can be protected more conveniently by a projecting coping, or otherwise. In warm situations, sloping to the south or south-east, it has the finest effect planted in front of a bank of evergreens; and, indeed, wherever it is planted, evergreens should be growing near it, so as to form a back ground, on account of the flowers expanding before the unfolding of the leaves.
Propagation and Culture. The Magnolia conspicua and all its varieties are propagated by layers, or by inarching on the Magnolia purpurea, or acuminata. When grafted on the former, the tree is comparatively small, by which it is rendered very convenient for use as a shrub, or for growing in pots; but when it is intended to form a tree, it should either be grafted on the Magnolia acuminata, or raised from layers or seeds. It generally requires two years before the plant can be separated from the parent stock. The young shoots are from twelve to eighteen inches in length, and the tree, in ten years, will attain a height of ten or fifteen feet, flowering the second or third year after grafting.
Properties and Uses. Besides the value of the Magnolia conspicua as an ornamental plant or tree, the Chinese pickle the flower-buds, after having removed their calyxes, and use them for flavouring rice. Medicinally, the seeds are taken in powder, in colds, and inflammations of the chest. It is also regarded as stomachic; and water, in which it has been steeped, is used for bathing the eyes when inflamed, and for clearing them of gum.