The magnolia is one of the oldest flowering plants in the world dating back millions of years ago. This magnificent tree is valued for its beautiful, fragrant flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. It is a popular ornamental tree that can be found in many parts of the world, particularly in the Southern United States. It is the state flower for both Louisiana and Mississippi.
Though magnolias are known for their ornamental purposes, there are other uses for this versatile plant. All parts of the plant, including the flowers, leaves, seeds and bark have practical use.
- Magnolias make wonderful fresh cut flowers. They will add charm, elegance and fragrant to any arrangement. The flowers will last about a week in a vase.
- The attractive dark green leaves are often used in both fresh and dried floral arrangements and wreaths.
- The fragrant magnolia is a popular ingredient in floral perfumes.
- The flowers can be used to make essential oil. Magnolia essential oil is used to calm nerves and can act as an aphrodisiac.
- The seeds are food for birds, squirrels and other small animals.
- The blossoms of the M. grandiflora are edible, typically as a pickle. Try this easy pickled magnolia flowers recipe! For some, the taste can be intense and somewhat spicy; at first, use the pickled petals sparingly to flavour salads and other dishes.
- The leaves of the M. grandiflora and M. virginiana can be used like bay leaves to flavour soups and stews. However, the entire leaf will be too much for one recipe; cut up the leaf before using.
- The bark and flower buds of M. officinalis are used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine. The bark is known to contain antidepressant properties and is used to relieve anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. The bark is also used to treat menstrual cramps, nausea, and indigestion.
- Magnolia is grown commercially for its lumber. The wood is dense and heavy, which makes it ideal for furniture, doors and cabinets.
- In parts of Japan, M. obovata leaves are used to wrap food.