Magnolia bark (Magnolia officinalis), an ornamental and medicinal plant

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Magnolia bark is a medicinal and ornamental plant that is common in the Asian landscape, being present in the hilly and mountainous regions. It has the scientific name of Magnolia officinalis and is part of the Magnolidae family. In China, it grows on river valleys and in the mountainous regions and is popularly known as the Houpu magnolia.

The magnolia bark is appreciated as an ornamental plant due to its large flowers, with a diameter of up to 20 cm. These are white, beautiful and perfumed and appear in the spring, before the leaves. It is one of the most beloved ornamental trees, being often planted in parks and gardens due to its special aspect.

In China, the bark of this tree is used for therapeutic purposes in order to make some useful mixtures used to treat ulcers, gastritis, cough, diarrhoeal states, sickness and vomiting.

Magnolia bark is one of the oldest plants that still exist as a species.

As palaeontologists say, both the fossilized remains of this plant, as well as those of the insects that used to pollinate its flowers were found in 100-million-year old sediments. In the wilderness, magnolia bark grows especially in the areas with humid soil that is rich in humus. Even though it is an Asian species, it was also introduced successfully in Europe as well. At present, the magnolias in the tropical and subtropical areas are also grown successfully in the Mediterranean areas, as well as those of the Black Sea.

There are more types of magnolias, which grow until the height of 20 m or even more, having very beautiful flowers. The most common species is Magnolia grandiflora, which grows in America and is always green. It develops nicely both in temperate and tropical regions. Its flowers are large, impressive, elegant, white and perfumed. A famous botanist, Alex. Garden, used to say that Magnolia grandiflora was “the most wonderful and magnificent tree in America”.

Another special species is that with large and unique flowers, similar to some perfumed pink-violet tulips; this species is known under the scientific name of Magnolia obovata.

Magnolia champaca impresses through its large, individual flowers, with wonderful golden-orange shades. The perfume of the flowers is so pleasant that it gave the species an incredible reputation. Thus, the flowers of this species are sold on the street, for the young girls to decorate their necks and hair with them.

In Shanghai, the species Michelia alba is considered to be a symbol of this city. Its white flowers are perfumed, but sometimes may be white-cream. Their perfume is mostly felt in the morning and at sunset.

In the summer months, one can see the flowers of the species Magnolia insignis. This plant is native to south-eastern Asia – north-eastern India, southern China and Nepal. The magnolia flowers are species, being intense red, pink or pink-reddish. The tree is magnificent when its flowers are open, while their perfume is very pleasant.

There are also magnolias with compact shapes, which are similar to small coconuts or white dove eggs. Such species are: Magnolia coco (with white flowers), Magnolia stellata (with white flowers, which are similar to stars when open) and Magnolia figo (with yellow flowers).

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