Some beautiful magnolias are native to Japan: the Kobushi (Magnolia kobus) and the “Shidekobushi” (Magnolia stellata) or Star magnolia.
The most common kind of magnolia seen in Japan are magnolia borealis or kobushi. Kobushi in Japanese means fist on account of the shape of the leaves. One of the pictures on the slide shows the easily recognisable broad leaves of the magnolia.

The star-perfomer and prized magnolia of Japan however is the Star Magnolia or Magnolia stellata.

Quiz: Why is the plant called the Star Magnolia? Answer: Because of the flowers that form a star shape by its petals. The Star Magnolia which have been grown in Japan for hundreds of years as flowering pot plants called \”Shidekobushi\” and can be seen in the World Heritage beech forests of Shirakami and elsewhere. Until I get pictures of my own, I’ll refer you to this page. But the most spectacular kind of magnolia is thought to be the magnolia stellata, that are now only commonly found in the remote beech forests.

History of the Magnolia species.

Magnolias are thought to represent the most primitive of flowering plants (alongside of the lily) with ancient fossil evidence dating to 58 million years ago.

Interesting fact: Did you know that magnolia flowers are pollinated by BEETLES not by bees?

Magnolia flowers evolved so long ago before bees and other flying pollinators were around, so they were pollinated by beetles which are more ancient insects.

Some beautiful magnolias are native to Japan: the Kobushi (Magnolia kobus) and the “Shidekobushi” (Magnolia stellata) or Star magnolia.

The most common kind of magnolia seen in Japan are magnolia borealis or kobushi. Kobushi in Japanese means fist on account of the shape of the leaves. One of the pictures on the slide shows the easily recognisable broad leaves of the magnolia.

The star-perfomer and prized magnolia of Japan has to be the Star Magnolia or Magnolia stellata.

Quiz: Why is the plant called the Star Magnolia? Answer: Because of the flowers that form a star shape by its petals. The Star Magnolia which have been grown in Japan for hundreds of years as flowering pot plants called “Shidekobushi” and can be seen in the World Heritage beech forests of Shirakami and elsewhere. Until I get pictures of my own, I’ll refer you to this
species.

Magnolias are thought to represent the most primitive of flowering plants (alongside of the lily) with ancient fossil evidence dating to 58 million years ago.

Interesting fact: Did you know that magnolia flowers are pollinated by BEETLES not by bees?

Magnolia flowers evolved so long ago before bees and other flying pollinators were around, so they were pollinated by beetles which are more ancient insects

Magnolia stellata is a species found wild in sites of the Ise Bay area of central Honshu, Japan’s largest island, at low elevations between 50m and 600m. It grows by streamsides and in moist, boggy areas with other woody plants such as Enkianthus cernuus, Corylopsis glabrescens var. gotoana and Berberis sieboldii.

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There is natural variation within M. stellata; flower colour varies from white to rich pink, and in some sites plants grow only to 3-4m, yet in other populations, on drier wooded slopes, they can reach 8-9m high. Several sites were threatened by industrial development but, during 1994, the Japan Association for Shidekobushi Conservation was established to help protect them.

There are two closely related species: M. salicifolia (Japanese willowleaf) and M. kobus. Magnolia salicifolia is an upright shrub or medium-sized tree, with small white flowers that often have a hint of pink at the base. Its willow-shaped leaves emit a scent of lemon verbena if crushed. It is the only species to overlap geographically with M. stellata in the wild, which sometimes results in a natural hybrid: M. x proctoriana.

Magnolia kobus (pictured above) is common throughout the forests of Japan. It is a much ‘heavier’ plant than M. stellata, growing into a tree up to 18m tall. Generally it flowers earlier than M. stellata, in mid-March, with flowers composed of six white tepals up to 10cm long, often flushed pink at the base. No naturally occurring hybrids are found in the wild; however, once these two species are brought together in a garden situation, they will hybridise freely to produce M. x loebneri.

I can’t take any close ups of the flower since they are all flowering way up there!

Read more at the 

RHS Online page.

 

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Lily or Tulip Magnolia モクレン (mokuren) also known as the “Japanese magnolia” because this species of magnolia was introduced to Europe from Japan. But the plant was also introduced to Japan from China where it is known as the Mulan magnolia around the seventh century along with the white flowering haku-mokuren (Magnolia denudata) or Yulan magnolia.

tulip magnolia

Interesting Fact: Magnolias tie with the water lily for the title of the earliest flowering plants on earth. Fossils show that magnolias were growing in temperate forests during the Cretaceous Period, 144 to 65 million years ago.

 

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