Magnolia Sprengeri ‘Diva’

Magnolia Sprengeri - Diva cultivar

This is Magnolia Sprengeri, originally from central China. Specifically it is the cultivar ‘Diva’.

The tree is named after the botanist Carl Ludwig Sprenger (1846 – 1917), who also has an iris and an asparagus named after him.

I’ve had the devil of a job trying to find out who actually named the magnolia after Mr Sprenger. Eventually I found a reference on Facebook. It is written by someone at Magnolia Grove, magnolia specialists of Waitara, Taranaki.

Waitara is a town in the northern part of the Taranaki region of the North Island of New Zealand.

This is the description:

E.H. Wilson’s first expedition to China was sponsored by the Vetch Nursery firm, and his priority was to find and collect Davidia involucrata, and to “not waste time” on anything else. He found the Davidia, but he collected many other wonderful trees, one of them being Magnolia sprengeri. Wilson accidentally mixed up two varieties: one with white blossoms, now named var. elongata; and the other with pink-to-red blossoms, now called var. sprengeri. Actually he didn’t “discover” Magnolia sprengeri herbarium material had been collected previously by Silvestre, an Italian missionary and then officially named and described by Renato Pampanini. Mr. Pampanini honored Carl Ludwig Sprenger (1846-1917), a German botanist…

That took me back to a monograph that I found earlier that was entitled Magnolia Sprengeri Pampanini, with the word ‘Pampanini’ in smaller letters. I wasn’t sure whether that was the author or some cultivar of the tree.

Now, having read the description on Facebook, I understood that the monograph was written by Mr Pampanini. Here is a link to his monograph.

A Thought About Magnolias

In my article Prisoners Of Geography, I mentioned the big, showy flowers of magnolias and wondered why they were so spectacular when there is almost nothing else in bloom to compete against it.

The thing is that when I look at the flowers, what stands out is how the petals go from tightly furled upright candles to flopping down and on their way out in no time at all. Finding a flower head intact is a matter of being there on the day. One day later and the flower is already sagging.

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