On a walk through the park this week, I saw the first hint of what promised to be a very southern summer. This week has been full of rain, but the gray clouds and the morning mist could do nothing to hide the beauty of the magnolia tree, just waiting to burst forth with its gracious, ivory blooms. I caught the faint scent of it’s delicious fragrance as I walked past, and I knew that sweet tea on the porch, sweet peaches from the farmer’s market, and not-so-sweet tomato sandwiches from the garden were not far behind.
What is it about the magnolia that
screams the south? First of all, southern women don’t scream. We might call to one another, but we would never scream. If you grew up in the south, the sight of a magnolia bloom is as synonymous with coming home as walking into a kitchen full of fried chicken, cornbread, and home-cooked vegetables. Here’s a look at why we think the magnolia flower is one of the many gracious symbols of the south:
- First discovered in the late 17th century, the Southern Magnolia is native to southeastern United States. Although the tree itself is an evergreen, it’s blossoms don’t come forth until late spring.
- It is the state tree of Mississippi and the state flower of both Louisiana and Mississippi.
- We southerners love our flowers, and the magnolia leaf is ideal for the perfect floral arrangement. It’s leaves are large, sturdy, and wax-coated, making it easily resistant to damage.
- It was named for French botanist, Pierre Magnol, who loved it so much, he transplanted it to Europe 300 years ago.
- A ten-second search just found twelve different perfumes with magnolia as the base scent. It’s creamy, sweet fragrance is romantic, soft, and graceful, everything a southern belle esteems to be.
- While it’s flower is lovely, it’s timber is useful also to make furniture, pallets, and veneer.
- Most southerners are familiar with the 1989 movie Steel Magnolias, and its reference to all southern women as magnolias themselves. Beautiful and strong, with roots that run deep and flowers that beckon warmth and hospitality…we couldn’t agree more.