Today, there are approximately 80 species of magnolia trees in existence. Magnolia trees are found in such areas as North America, Central America, the West Indies and Asia. The tree bears ornamental flowers and distinct fruits, which are sometimes mistaken for pinecones. The fruit grows 1 to 8 inches tall.
The fruit on a magnolia tree resembles a pinecone. It is composed of elongated, spiny protuberances and individual follicles. Inside is a small, berry-like fruit that is edible in some species. The fruit contains seeds that measure 1 to 3 inches wide. The seeds are encased in a fleshy layer known as aril and look like red or orange berries.
In the spring, the magnolia fruit appears as a hard pinecone. In the fall, the fruit develops follicles, which look like scales. The follicles split open to reveal the fruit's seeds. As winter approaches, the fruit falls from the tree. The seeds are collected and stored in containers over the winter, and then planted in the spring.
Magnolia tree fruit is irksome in heavily populated neighborhoods and urban areas, since the fruit falls once a year. This causes injuries to pedestrians and obstructions on sidewalks and roadways.
Magnolia fruits combined with the famous flowers add elegance and beauty to gardens and yards. The fruit also attracts birds and butterflies because of its sweet nectar.
- United States National Arboretum: Magnolia Questions and Answers
- Wayne's Word Online Textbook of Natural History; Identification of Major Fruit Types; W.P. Armstrong; 2008
- Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service; Magonlia; Debbie Shaughnessy, et al.; 1999
- The Ohio State University Extension: Ohio Trees - Magnolia
- University of Florida IFAS Extension; Magnolia Grandiflora - Southern Magnolia; Edward F. Gilman, et al.
- University of Florida IFAS Extension; Magnolias; Gary W. Knox