Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Plant of the Week: Umbrella Magnolia (Magnolia tripetala)

Kentucky is at the heart of the range of this spectacular small tree which can reach heights of 40'. The most distinctive thing about this species, and the other native deciduous magnolias, are the large leaves ranging from 12 to 30" long or more.  Umbrella magnolia is different from big leaf (Magnolia macrophylla) in that there are no "ear-lobes" at the base and is whitish underneath, Fraser's magnolia (M. fraseri) which has smaller leaves with lobes and is pale but not whitish underneath, and cucumber tree (M. acuminata)which has smaller leaves, no lobes and is whitish underneath. Cucumber tree also has rough bark compared to the others which have smooth bark.  Umbrella magnolia also has these incredibly large, showy white flowers than reach up to 7 or 8" across.  In the fall, the flowers are replaced by a cone or reddish seeds and the leaves turn yellow before dropping.  This is a tree that is definitely worth trying in the landscape if for no other reason that you are likely to be the only one what has it in the landscape. Site location is the key to using this as it should be sheltered from the wind and it must be watered during drought, even mature trees. It does not like, nor thrive in clay soils and likes well-drained, somewhat acidic soils, often rich in humus.  It also likes part shade. A great place to have it would be at the edge of the shade garden or along a meandering stream near a water garden. The species name tripetala most likely is related to the three sepals that are longer than the petals of which there are more than 3 in the flower. Why did it get this name?  It appears it was a mistake by Carlos von Linne' in that he used the description provided by famed botanist Mark Catesby who called it, "Magnolia amplissimo flore albo, fructo coccinea" and he was confused by the actual number of petals. The common name arises from the round clustered and long leaves at the end of the branches that resemble an umbrella.

No comments:

Post a Comment