DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Magnolia grandiflora flower. Magnolias evolved about 100 million years ago. The flower has several features that are considered to be primitive. The off-white thick "petals" - nine are visible - are all similar; in more recently evolved flowers, petals are surrounded by sepals which differ in shape, and are often green. The "petals" of M. grandiflora are correctly termed tepals. The sexual parts of the flower (centre, cream and yellow) appear as a cone-like structure. The (male) anthers are cream, and the yellow structures above are the (female) styles, with a feathery stigmatic surface. The anthers have not yet shed their pollen. The small structures lying on the lower tepals are anthers that have become detached from the flower (cream, red tip). M. grandiflora is native to the Southeastern United States, and is a much prized tree in horticulture, reaching 25m or more in height.
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