This week many trees in the Arboretum’s extensive collection of magnolias are coming into glorious bloom. Arboretum Director William (Ned) Friedman offers us a look inside the flower of the Merrill magnolia, Magnolia x loebneri ‘Merrill’.

Ned writes: This photo (top) a closeup of the inner reproductive parts of a magnolia flower. The outer whorls of flattened organs are the stamens, which will produce and release pollen. The inner deep pink structures are the tips of the future fruits (stigmas and styles) that will receive pollen and ultimately contain the seeds. This incredible hybrid magnolia growing next to the Hunnewell Building was the outcome of a cross made in 1939 between star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) and Kobushi magnolia (Magnolia kobus). Its botanical name (Magnolia x loebneri ‘Merrill’) honors Elmer Merrill, the third director of the Arnold Arboretum. Interestingly, the cross was made by a student of Harvard botanist Karl Sax, who would later become fourth director of the Arboretum in 1946. I can only hope that my name might someday be attached to a plant as beautiful as this one!

Find this delightful hybrid magnolia on your next visit to the Arboretum!

From “free” to “friend”…

Established in 1911 as the Bulletin of Popular Information, Arnoldia has long been a definitive forum for conversations about temperate woody plants and their landscapes. In 2022, we rolled out a new vision for the magazine as a vigorous forum for tales of plant exploration, behind-the-scenes glimpses of botanical research, and deep dives into the history of gardens, landscapes, and science. The new Arnoldia includes poetry, visual art, and literary essays, following the human imagination wherever it entangles with trees.

It takes resources to gather and nurture these new voices, and we depend on the support of our member-subscribers to make it possible. But membership means more: by becoming a member of the Arnold Arboretum, you help to keep our collection vibrant and our research and educational mission active. Through the pages of Arnoldia, you can take part in the life of this free-to-all landscape whether you live next door or an ocean away.

For more tree-entangled art, science, and writing, subscribe to Arnoldia by becoming a member of the Arnold Arboretum.