There are around 80 different species of magnolia, most with large, fragrant flowers. Magnolias grow as shrubs or as trees and can reach a height of 60 to 80 feet.
Magnolias can be grown from seeds, from cuttings or by grafting. Seeds are spread by birds, mammals and heavy rains and germinate during the first or second spring after the seed falls. Young seedlings are susceptible to damage from frost.
When magnolias are a few feet high and about 2 to 4 inches in diameter, they're referred to as saplings. Unlike seedlings, which have a single tap root, saplings develop an extensive root system. Trees with a diameter of 3 to 7 inches are called poles.
Trees grown from seeds have a juvenile stage during which they can't produce flowers or seeds. This juvenile stage can last 20 or 25 years, but some magnolias start producing seeds in 10 years.
Magnolia trees produce perfect flowers, containing both male and female parts. Flowers are fertilized when bees and beetles carry pollen from one flower to another. Individual magnolia flowers may be receptive to fertilization for less than a day.
The average lifespan of magnolias varies, depending on the species. Southern magnolias tend to live around 80 years, but some trees live as long as 120 years.
Lani Thompson began writing in 1987 as a journalist for the "Pequawket Valley News." In 1993 she became managing editor of the "Independent Observer" in East Stoneham, Maine. Thompson also developed and produced the "Clan Thompson Celiac Pocketguides" for people with celiac disease. She attended the University of New Hampshire.