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In Bloom

Magnolia doltsopa Sweet Michelia
 
Magnolia doltsopa at San Francisco Botanical Garden

Magnolia doltsopa. Photo by James Gaither.

Magnolia doltsopa at San Francisco Botanical Garden by James Gaither Magnolia doltsopa at San Francisco Botanical Garden by James Gaither Magnolia doltsopa at San Francisco Botanical Garden by James Gaither Magnolia doltsopa at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Joanne Taylor Magnolia doltsopa at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell Magnolia doltsopa at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Joanne Taylor Magnolia doltsopa at San Francisco Botanical Garden by James Gaither Magnolia doltsopa at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Joanne Taylor Magnolia doltsopa at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell Magnolia doltsopa at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Joanne Taylor

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Thanks to the adventuresome spirits of British botanists in the 19th century, many botanical treasures like Sweet Michelia, were discovered in the arc of the Himalayas that stretches from China to Kashmir. Enduring elevations from 5000 to 9000 feet in mountainous terrain, capricious weather and suspicious villagers, the botanists brought back seeds and cuttings from unusual trees and other plants never before collected. Back in England, they were planted and nurtured at Kew Gardens. One of these explorers was Francis Buchanan-Hamilton, a Scottish physician and botanist, who discovered Sweet Michelia in Nepal, and officially named it in 1817. Caerhays Castle in Cornwall was the first place outside of China to display it in bloom in 1933.

SFBG has mature specimens in the garden located in the Mesoamerican Cloud Forest, Southeast Asian Cloud Forest and the Moon Viewing Garden with a range of blooming periods. While most are evergreen, there is one clone in the Mesoamerican Cloud Forest off of the main lawn that is deciduous in cold winters.

Sweet Michelia is different from other magnolias in that its flowers arise in the axils of the leaves along the stems, rather than at the end of the branches. The petal-like tepals are structurally different from petals and reveal, among other differences, the primitive quality of the Magnolia family. Magnolias date back millions of years to the time of the dinosaurs, a time before bees and butterflies were present. Beetles were the primitive pollinators of Magnolias. The creamy white, fragrant three-inch tepals can number 12 to 16 per flower, and cover the tree when in full bloom. The evergreen leaves are three to seven inches long with a downy underside.

Today over 200 species of the Magnolia can be found in Japan, China, Malaysia, Mexico and the eastern United States. Fossils tell us that they once grew all over the northern hemisphere before the ice age. Magnolias thrive in cold winters and wet springs. San Francisco's chilly fog and temperate ocean climate seem to provide just what they need.

Profile
Scientific Name Magnolia doltsopa
Common Name Sweet Michelia
Family Magnoliaceae
Plant Type Evergreen tree
Environment Sun or partial shade; prefers deep, rich, well-drained soil and a location sheltered from wind.
Bloom Late winter – spring; furry brown flower buds open to fragrant creamy white flowers.
Uses Grows to 25 feet as a street tree in San Francisco; older trees reach 50 feet at SFBG
More info Relatively hardy, these trees can be found up and down the west coast, easily surviving temperatures in the low teens. The species is quite variable and smaller forms make perfect street trees. Many street trees in adjacent neighborhoods have been grown from seed collected at the garden; after forty years they are only 15 feet tall and are prolific bloomers.

IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS:
Text by Kathy McNeil. Photos by Joanne Taylor, Mona Bourell and James Gaither. Profile by Mona Bourell

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Location

Magnolia doltsopa is located in the Mesoamerican Cloud Forest (Beds 24C, 26D), Moon Viewing Garden (Bed 51A), Ancient Plant Garden (Bed 68A, 68E), Rhododendron Garden (Bed 71A), Southeast Asian Cloud Forest (Bed 78B, 78K).

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Magnolia campbellii

Magnolia campbellii

January

Magnolia doltsopa

Magnolia doltsopa

February

Magnolia liliiflora

Magnolia liliiflora

March

Magnolia dawsoniana

Magnolia dawsoniana

January

Magnolia campbellii 'Strybing White'

Magnolia campbellii 'Strybing White'

February

Magnolia laevifolia'Strybing Compact'

Magnolia laevifolia 'Strybing Compact'

March

Aristolochia californica

Aristolochia californica

April

Chlorogalum pomeridianum

Chlorogalum pomeridianum

May

Arbutus menziesii

Arbutus menziesii

June

Romneya coulteri

Romneya coulteri

July

Cistus sp.

Cistus sp.

August

Rosmarinus sp.

Rosmarinus sp.

September

Dahlia spp.

Dahlia spp.

October

Salvia cacaliifolia

Salvia cacaliifolia

November

Salvia cacaliifolia

Salvia microphylla
'Hot Lips'

November

Magnolia campbellii

Magnolia campbellii

January

Magnolia denudata

Magnolia denudata

February

Magnolia x veitchii

Magnolia x veitchii

March

Iris douglasiana

Iris douglasiana

April

Aesculus californica

Aesculus californica

May

Vaccinium ovatum

Vaccinium ovatum

June

Sambucus racemosa

Sambucus racemosa

July

Sequoia sempervirens

Sequoia sempervirens

August

Asarum caudatum

Asarum caudatum

September

Deppea splendens

Deppea splendens

October

Montanoa spp.

Montanoa spp.

November

Bidens sp.

Bidens sp.

December

Acer palmatum 'Sango kaku'

Acer palmatum 'Sango kaku'

January

Magnolia campbellii 'Darjeeling'

Magnolia campbellii 'Darjeeling'

February

Bomaria spp.

Bomarea spp.

March

Rhododendron occidentale

Rhododendron occidentale

April

Polystichum munitum

Polystichum munitum

May

x Chiranthofremontia lenzii

x Chiranthofremontia lenzii

June

Salvia leucantha

Salvia leucantha

July

Hydrangea seemannii

Hydrangea seemannii

August

Wollemia nobilis

Wollemia nobilis

September

Cyathea cooperi

Cyathea cooperi

October

Pinus radiata

Pinus radiata

November

Correa spp.

Correa spp.

December

Garrya elliptica

Garrya elliptica

January

Magnolia x soulangeana

Magnolia x soulangeana

February

Senecio glastifolius

Senecio glastifolius

March

Ribes spp.

Ribes spp.

April

Oxalis oregana

Oxalis oregana

May

Calandrinia grandiflora

Calandrinia grandiflora

June

Taxus baccata

Taxus baccata

July

Romneya coulteri

Romneya coulteri

August

Passiflora parritae

Passiflora parritae

September

Malvaviscus arboreus

Malvaviscus arboreus

October

Monterey Cypress

Monterey Cypress

November

Aloe arborescens

Aloe arborescens

December

Aloe plicatilis

Aloe plicatilis

January

Banksia seminuda

Banksia seminuda

February

Zantedeschia elliottiana

Zantedeschia aethiopica

March

Magnolia laevifolia

Magnolia laevifolia

April

Araucaria heterophylla

Araucaria heterophylla

May

Toxicodendron diversilobum

Toxicodendron diversilobum

June

Clarkia sp.

Clarkia sp.

July

Agapanthus

Agapanthus

August

Brugmansia

Brugmansia

September

Cedrus spp.

Cedrus spp.

October

Protea repens

Protea repens

November

Camellia sinensis

Camellia sinensis

December

Thujopsis dolabrata

Thujopsis dolabrata

January

Gordonia longicarpa

Gordonia longicarpa

February

Rojasianthe superba

Rojasianthe superba

March

Echium spp.

Echium spp.

April

Iris douglasiana

Iris douglasiana

May

Digitalis purpurea

Digitalis purpurea

June

Felicia amelloides

Felicia amelloides

July

Ceroxylon quindiuense

Ceroxylon quindiuense

August

Amaryllis belladonna

Amaryllis belladonna

September

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba

October

Acer morrisonense

Acer morrisonense

November

Ilex aquifolium

Ilex aquifolium

December

Picea sitchensis

Picea sitchensis

January

Telanthophora grandifolia

Telanthophora grandifolia

February

Aeonium arboreum 'Schwartzkopf'

Aeonium arboreum 'Schwartzkopf'

March

Leptospermum Spp.

Leptospermum

April

Salvia gesneraeflora

Salvia gesneraeflora

May

Lavandula spp.

Lavandula spp.

June

Pelargonium

Pelargonium

July

Fuchsia paniculata

Fuchsia paniculata

August

Luma apiculata

Luma apiculata

September

Luculia

Luculia

October

Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo

November

Cycads

Cycad

December

Restionaceae

Restionaceae

January

Hellebores

Hellebores

February

Ceanothus

Ceanothus

March

Rhododendron

Rhododendron

April

Psoralea pinnata

Psoralea pinnata

May

Fremontodendron californicum

Fremontodendron californicum

June

Leucadendron argenteum

Leucadendron argenteum

July

Crocosmia

Crocosmia

August

Gunnera tinctoria

Gunnera tinctoria

September

Pellaea rotundifolia

Pellaea rotundifolia

October

Fuchsia boliviana

Fuchsia boliviana

November

Erica canaliculata

Erica canaliculata

December

Magnolia campbelli

Magnolia campbelli

January

Magnolia denudata

Magnolia denudata

February

Camellia

Camellia

March

Geranium maderense

Geranium maderense

April

Acmena smithii

Acmena smithii

May

Eschscholzia californica

Eschscholzia californica

June

Dendromecon harfordii

Dendromecon harfordii

July

Romneya coulteri

Romneya coulteri

August

Eupatorium purpureum

Eupatorium purpureum

September

Epilobium canum sp.

Epilobium canum sp.

October

Grevillea spp.

Grevillea spp.

November

Drimys winteri

Drimys winteri

December

SFBGS and San Francisco Recreation and Park Department San Francisco Botanical Garden's beauty and value as a major cultural resource are the result of a successful public/private partnership between San Francisco Botanical Garden Society and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.

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