Magnolias share a lineage with some of the oldest flowering trees on earth -- dating back almost 100 million years -- and once grew wild in such unlikely places as Greenland and Siberia. Today their habitats are more restricted, with more than seventy species of the plant growing in parts of Asia, the east coast of the United States, and the tropics of Central and South America. Twenty-five varieties can also be found in Brooklyn, New York, at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
The Botanic Garden was founded in 1910; its first magnolias were planted in 1932. Each April, the magnolias inaugurate springtime, blooming in a range of magnificent colors -- from creamy white to yellow, rosy purple pink to light pink highlighted with fuchsia -- and include such examples of the plant as M. acuminata 'Elizabeth,' M. kobus, M. x lobeneri 'Leonard Messel,' and the tiny, delicate M. soulangiana 'Lilliputian.' Magnolias are hardy trees that can endure extremes in temperature, but prefer moisture and nutrient-rich, acidic soil and mulch around their roots. They also require minimal pruning, most of which the Botanical Garden does after the springtime blossoming, so the trees can be seen at their peak by the many visitors who come in spring.
Learn more about Brooklyn Botanic Garden.