The Tasmanian Arboretum
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Magnolia is a well known genus of woody plants used in temperate gardens. Its botanical name is also its common name in English speaking countries.
There are some 80 species, about 50 being Asian in distribution. Most of the species are found in mountain areas and more than half occur in the tropics.
The name of the genus commemorates Pierre Magnol (1638-1715). An early Director of the Botanic Garden at Montpelier, France, and Professor of Botany and Medicine.
The first Magnolia in cultivation in Europe was from North America, Magnolia virginiana, recorded in 1688.
Asian species have been cultivated in China and Japan from long before 1688. Species taken to Europe from Asia were from cultivation there. The evergreen yulan (Magnolia denudata) was one of those.
A popular Magnolia in older Tasmanian gardens was the bull bay (Magnolia grandiflora), another evergreen with large white flowers. This species was the first Magnolia listed in a Hobart nursery catalogue in 1830.
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The distribution of Magnolia is indicative of their early appearance among flowering plants on the ancient continent of Gondwana.