Are Magnolia Seeds Edible?

No, they are not edible for humans, but for animals, it is. Some varieties like Southern Magnolia are mildly poisonous if ingested by humans.

This is a seed pod, not yet fully mature, of a flower from a Magnolia tree. This particular one happens to be growing by a field in the rural SC midlands.

How Do Magnolia Seeds Taste Like?

Initially, they have a sweet, pleasant flavor, but after a second bite, my mouth felt as if it had been flooded with gasoline, which was unpleasant. Within the seeds is a pale tan nutmeat surrounded by an outer, red coat of shellac. These beans will need to be the subject of further study.

What Do Magnolia Seeds Look Like?

Magnolia seeds are oval-shaped and have a bright red color. They are about 2 mm long and 1 mm wide. They have a smooth surface and are surrounded by a hard shell that needs to be removed before being used.

Are Magnolia Pods Edible?

It depends on the specific Magnolia pod you are referring to. However, most Magnolia Pods are not edible and should be disposed of in the same way as any other waste.

Are Magnolia Seeds Poisonous?

If the southern magnolia tree is handled or ingested by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, no toxic effects on humans or animals. If eaten, the magnolia tree’s leaves, flowers, or berries will not poison you. Other animals, such as birds and squirrels, eat the seeds. The orange seeds of a star magnolia and the red ones in Southern magnolia seed pods are equally eye-catching. 

Can Dogs Eat Magnolia Seeds?

Dogs are not poisoned or harmed by magnolia seeds or cones. However, if consumed in sufficient quantities, they have the potential to cause a life-threatening blockage in the intestinal tract.

Magnolia Seeds Purpose

Although they are not consumable as edible, they served their original purpose —Propagation. Magnolia seeds must go through a process known as stratification before they can germinate. Place the seeds in a filled with moist sand and thoroughly mix them. When you squeeze the sand, it should not be so wet that water drips from the palm of your hand.

Growing Magnolias from Seed

It’s preferable to sow the seeds in the spring when you’re ready to start growing a magnolia tree from seed. You can do this either directly into the ground or in pots. Cover them with about 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) of soil when you plant your seeds and water them regularly until your seedlings emerge. While the magnolia seedling is growing, a layer of mulch will aid in the retention of moisture in the soil. In addition, new seedlings will require protection from direct sunlight during their first year of growth.

Magnolia grandiflora fruit and seeds

How Do You Harvest Magnolia Seeds?

Most magnolia seeds are found in follicles, which are large cone-shaped fruits produced by the trees. When the follicles open up and reveal the seed, which is often red and covered in a waxy coating, the seed can be harvested and used as a vegetable. To loosen the seed coat after harvesting, the seeds are soaked for three days in water to remove any remaining impurities.

What Part of Magnolia Tree is Edible?

The magnolia flower, for example, is edible and has a flavor that is very similar to the way it smells, giving the dish a strong, sweet, floral flavor. If you use magnolia flowers in your cooking, you’ll get a strong, sweet, floral flavor that matches how they smell. They are not traditionally eaten raw but somewhat pickled with only the flower petals, as in Japan. It is recommended that you prepare them in a sweet and sour pickle recipe because the floral flavor pairs well with the sweetness added to the recipe. After being pickled, the petals of the flowers are traditionally diced up and used as a flavoring agent in salads and other dishes to which they are added sparingly. To use the petals differently, simply dice up a few fresh petals and incorporate them into honey, syrups, and other dessert dishes.

umbrella tree magnolia full framed close up

How About Other Parts of Magnolia Tree, What Are They Used For?

The Leaves

Using a leaf, similar to how you would use a bay leaf to flavor soups and other dishes, is the most straightforward way to appreciate the beauty of this tree and the sweetness of the sweetbay magnolia. Although the leaves are large, it is generally recommended to cut them into smaller pieces when using them due to their strong flavor and size. When preparing tea, sweetbay magnolia leaves should be cut into smaller pieces so that the taste of the tea does not become overpowered by their sweetness. If you find the flavor of your wild tea to be too weak, as with all wild teas, simply add a bag of regular or green tea to the herbs to bring the flavors together. The consumption of magnolia bark tea has been suggested to be effective in curing tobacco users of their addiction, and it can be used long-term with no known side effects.

The Bark

According to traditional Chinese medicine, the bark of the tree can be used to treat rheumatism and malaria. It also treats dyspepsia, dysentery, diarrhea, and intermittent fevers. Traditionally, a decoction is prepared and applied topically to insect bites, rashes, and sores as a wash and bath. Simple preparation of one teaspoon of bark will yield a decoction suitable for consumption. Combine it with one cup of water, simmering the mixture with the lid off until the water is reduced by one-fourth (about 15 minutes). Then strain and cool the decoction, which can be used right away or stored in the refrigerator for up to 72 hours at a time without going bad. One cup of magnolia tea per day is sufficient for this plant. Simmer one tablespoon of bark in one pint of water for ten minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely before applying externally. According to some sources, the bark can also be soaked in an alcoholic solution and lower blood pressure. It can also help stimulate the respiratory system.

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