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The state tree of Mississippi, the magnolia, is also the state flower. Approximately 80 varieties of magnolia exist, and six of these are indigenous to Mississippi. Lawmakers did not specify which of these six varieties they favored as the state tree of Mississippi when they adopted it as a symbol in 1938, but it is commonly believed to be the southern magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora.
The southern magnolia, like other varieties, is valued for its waxy, fragrant, and stunning creamy white blossoms and leathery, shiny green leaves. The state tree of Mississippi can grow to 80 feet (24.38 meters) under ideal conditions. The tallest southern magnolia in the country, 122 feet (37.18 meters), is found in Mississippi, and it was designated a National Champion by the American Forestry Association.
The southern magnolia is revered by botanists and the public for the splendor of its blooms, and the state’s schoolchildren felt the same way in 1900. Children around the state wanted the southern magnolia to become the official state flower. Lawmakers granted their wish, but not until 1952, making Mississippi the only state that chose the magnolia for both state symbols, giving Mississippi its nickname, the Magnolia State. The magnolia also is the state flower of Louisiana.
The state’s schoolchildren also were involved in the selection of the state tree of Mississippi. A state forestry official asked the children in 1935 to choose the tree that would be an emblem of their state, and the children were offered four suggestions: pine, magnolia, dogwood and oak. The children were asked to cast ballots for their favorite, and the magnolia emerged the winner.
The state tree of Mississippi is also known as the large-flower magnolia, bull bay, evergreen magnolia and big laurel. The flowers can be as large as 8 inches (20.32 centimeters). The tree’s branches will dip low to the ground if not pruned, with shade preventing any type of successful planting under the tree. The magnolia’s wood is used in the manufacture of furniture, and birds and other forms of wildlife flock to its seeds.
Other varieties of magnolia trees can sport blossoms that are yellow, red, purple or pink. These blooms are generally safe from deer’s eating habits, unlike many ornamental trees and plants. Fossils have been found of magnolias that date to 36 million years ago, and some of these fossils are even older, dating to 58 million years ago.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the state tree of Mississippi?
The state tree of Mississippi is the Southern Magnolia, also known as Magnolia grandiflora. This tree was designated as the state tree in 1938 due to its widespread presence throughout the state and its significance in Mississippi's natural history. The Southern Magnolia is renowned for its large, fragrant white flowers and glossy evergreen leaves, making it a symbol of the state's beauty and southern charm.
When was the Southern Magnolia officially designated as Mississippi's state tree?
The Southern Magnolia was officially designated as the state tree of Mississippi on April 1, 1938. The decision was made by the Mississippi Legislature, recognizing the tree's beauty and its representation of the southern spirit of Mississippi. The Southern Magnolia has since become an emblem of the state, celebrated for its grandeur and resilience.
Why was the Southern Magnolia chosen as the state tree?
The Southern Magnolia was chosen as the state tree of Mississippi for several reasons. It is native to the state and thrives in Mississippi's climate and soil. Its grand white blossoms and evergreen leaves symbolize the state's natural beauty and strength. Additionally, the magnolia has played a significant role in Mississippi's culture and history, further cementing its status as a state symbol.
Where can one find the Southern Magnolia in Mississippi?
The Southern Magnolia can be found throughout Mississippi, as it is well-suited to the state's climate. It grows in a variety of settings, from residential landscapes to wild forests. State parks, botanical gardens, and historic homes often feature this majestic tree. The Southern Magnolia is also prevalent in the Mississippi State University campus, where it adds to the picturesque Southern scenery.
Are there any notable characteristics of the Southern Magnolia?
The Southern Magnolia is notable for its impressive size, reaching up to 80 feet in height and 40 feet in width. It has large, dark green, glossy leaves with a leathery texture and brown, velvety undersides. The tree's most striking feature is its large, creamy white flowers that can span up to 12 inches across, emitting a strong, sweet fragrance. These blossoms typically appear from spring through summer, followed by cone-like fruit that provides food for local wildlife.