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Revision as of 16:03, 9 January 2012
Magnolia, or Magnolia denudata, is an exquisite ornamental flowering tree commonly found in Asia. It is the official flower of Shanghai and used often in flower gardens where the scent of citrus-lemon fills the air. The Magnolia denudata grows to an average height of 30 feet and hold thick limbs of ovate, bright green leaves. The buds bloom to creamy white flowers in early to late spring, dotting the landscape with sweet-smelling beauty.
Origin and History of the Magnolia
Magnolia denudata is native to East Asia and still grows wild in east-central China today. Used to decorate Chinese Buddhist temple gardens, the tree's presence symbolized purity during the ancient Tang Dynasty. So significant was the Magnolia to the Chinese people, that it was planted on the grounds of the Emperor's palace. For over 1000 years, Magnolias have adorned Chinese gardens as a sign of purity, feminine sweetness and beauty. The Chinese culture holds the Magnolia dear to the belief that beauty brings prosperity so it is no wonder that this tree is highly respected.
Ancient Uses of the Magnolia
The flower buds of the Magnolia were considered an excellent form of medicine for Colds and for clearing nasal passages as well. The bark of the tree was also used to bring relief to menstrual cramps, abdominal pain, indigestion and nausea. 1000 times more potent than Vitamin E in antioxidant properties, it is believed that the cortisol-balancing and anti-stress activities were balanced with the high levels of vitamins. Native American Indians in different parts of the country have also used the healing powers of the Magnolia tree in treatment of ailments for centuries.
Modern Uses of the Magnolia
Japanese researchers refer to the chemicals found in the magnolia bark as honokiol and magnolol. These two ingredients are used today in herbal supplements. Often compared to the pharmaceutical anxiolytic, diazepam (valium), it has been found to be five times stronger than diazepam in reducing anxiety without any side effects.
The petals of Magnolia denudata are also considered to be a delicacy in areas of China where the trees grow freely. Soon after the flowers open, the petals are collected and deep-fried and eaten while hot. Another dish called "yu lan hua pian" is served in the southern regions of China using pickled flower buds and eaten with rice.
The Magnolia denudata provides natural beauty, soft scents, vitamins for staying healthy, uses for medicinal purposes and is provides a tasty variety to palettes. Although there are no indications of side effects from the consumption of any part of the Magnolia tree, care should be taken in it using too freely. The bark contains so much in Vitamin E properties that an overdose is actually quite possible. There are herbal manufacturers that offer honokiol and magnolol in dosages that are made for the human body. Nature has a way of balancing life and natural growing substances and the Magnolia is a perfect example of how one tree has been offering more than just beauty as it blooms in the spring.