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magnolia,common name for plants of the genus Magnolia, and for the Magnoliaceae, a family of deciduous or evergreen trees and shrubs, often with showy flowers. They are principally of north temperate regions with centers of distribution in Asia and E North America. The magnolia family is considered one of the most primitive groups of angiospermsangiosperm
, term denoting seed plants in which the ovules, or young seeds, are enclosed within the ovary (that part of the pistil specialized for seed production), in contrast to the gymnosperms, in which the seeds are not enclosed within an ovary.
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Among the few native American species of the chiefly Asian genus Magnolia are the deciduous umbrella tree (M. tripetala); the cucumber tree (M. acuminata), named for the appearance of its unripe fruits; the evergreen sweet, or swamp, bay (M. virginiana); and the bull bay, or Southern magnolia (M. grandiflora), with enormous blossoms resembling water lilies. Many imported magnolias are also cultivated in the South, as are several species of the Asian genus Michelia.
The only other member of the family native to North America is the tulip tree or tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipfera), named for the tuliplike shape of its greenish-yellow, orange-centered blossoms. The tulip tree, relic of a past geological era when it was widespread throughout North America and Europe, now grows only in the E United States and in China. Its light but strong yellowish softwood, prized for cabinetwork and furniture, is commonly called yellow poplar, canary wood, whitewood, or tulipwood.
The magnolia family is classified in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
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Magnolia(măgnō`lyə), city (1990 pop. 11,151), seat of Columbia co., SW Ark.; inc. 1855. Its oil industry has been important since 1938. Metal products, apparel, chemicals, and lumber are also produced. Southern Arkansas Univ. is there.
a genus of plants of the family Magnoliaceae, including trees or, rarely, shrubs. The simple leaves are ever-green or deciduous, and the flowers are terminal, solitary and bisexual. The fruit is a spiral multiple follicle. The approximately 80 species have the same area of distribution as other members of the family Magnoliaceae. One species, Magnolia obovata, grows in the USSR, in the Kuril Islands; 15 species are cultivated in the southern Crimea, the Black Sea shore of the Caucasus, Transcaucasia, and Middle Asia. Of these species, southern magnolia (M. grandiflora) is particularly common. An evergreen tree measuring up to 30 m tall, it has shiny leaves and large white flowers. Magnolia leaves contain alkaloids, an essential oil, and glycosides, which are used to lower blood pressure. A liquid alcohol extract of magnolia leaves is used in the early stages of hypertension.