White Magnolia gradiflora by DavetheMagePhoto by DavetheMage

Fast Facts

  • Adopted the Louisiana state flower in 1900
  • Botanical name: Magnolia
  • Also the state flower of Mississippi
  • Louisiana also has a state wildflower, the Louisiana iris
  • Magnolia flowers provide food for giant moth larvae.
  • Magnolia trivia: Magnolia is named after a French botanist, Pierre Magnol.
  • Louisiana Flower Delivery

Magnolia Street. Magnolia Mansion. Magnolia Elementary School. Since lawmakers chose the handsome blossom of the magnolia tree as the Louisiana state flower in 1900, residents have added its name to streets, schools and places of interest throughout their state. From Magnolia Cemetery in Baton Rouge to Magnolia, a wedding band that plays throughout the state (“Louisiana’s Most Versatile Band”), Louisianans pay homage to a flower that is beautiful, stately and quintessentially southern.

The Louisiana state flower grows on the magnolia tree, a perennial that can tower between 60-80 feet high and span 30-50 feet across. The hard-to-miss hardwoods grow abundantly throughout the state, from Shreveport to New Orleans. They also flourish across the southeastern United States. Magnolias are both the state flower and state tree of Mississippi. They are also responsible for one of the oldest nicknames of Houston, Texas, “Magnolia City.”

In Louisiana, magnolias begin to form flower buds in late March and early April. By mid April the flowers are in full bloom. In Baton Rouge, flowers from the magnolia tree bring a delightful beauty to parks and along streets. In New Orleans the flowers frequently grace residential yards, including those of many older estates.

Magnolia by BiuschPhoto by Biusch

The Louisiana state flower is at once showy and elegant. Their blossoms are made up of enormous waxy petals that provide a stark contrast to the tree’s shiny green foliage. Magnolia flowers range in color from cream to pink. They also give off a strong sweet perfume that many commercial businesses attempt to replicate in their products.

The magnolia bloom is relatively short lived. In fact, it may only be pristine for several days. By autumn, Louisiana’s state flower has dried up and its petals have fallen. In its place forms an attractive red seedpod that is enjoyed by squirrels, rabbits, birds and even wild turkeys.

Magnolias trees have a history that far precedes their selection as the Louisiana state flower. Fossilized specimens of flowers from the magnolia family date back 95 million years. The bark from one species of magnolia has been used in traditional Chinese medicine since 1083 to fight dementia, heart disease and cancer.

Closer to home, President Andrew Jackson gave the tree some recognition during his tenure in office when he transplanted a magnolia tree from his home state of Tennessee to the grounds of the White House in memory of his wife, Rachel.

Between its beauty and its history, it’s little wonder that the magnolia is so revered.

Source links:

Louisiana Official Web site:

http://www.louisiana.gov/wps/wcm/connect/Louisiana.gov/Explore/Culture

United States National Arboretum

http://www.usna.usda.gov/Gardens/collections/statetrees.html#magnolia