Bees benefit from the nutrient-dense pollen and pleasant nectar produced by magnolia trees all year long. But pollinators aren’t the only ones that like the fragrance of magnolias. Bumblebees, flower flies, and a few types of stink bugs, leafhoppers, and other insects, are also found attracted to magnolia flowers by the nectar and pollen of the flowers. The bee pollination process usually begins with the bee landing on the stigma (the top part of the flower) and inserting its proboscis into the flowers to collect nectar. Once it has filled its mouth with nectar, the bee will fly away. The butterfly pollination process usually begins when it lands on the flower and brushes its wings against the petals. This action dislodges pollen from the stigmas, which the butterfly then absorbs.
Sadly, most of these bees arrive at flowering plants too late, when the blooms have passed their prime and are no longer fertile grounds for pollination. In this case, the beetles are to blame for most of these plants’ existence.
Table of Contents
Magnolia Pollination Strategy
Magnolias can bloom at any time of year, but the best time to see them is in February and June. The Oyama magnolia (Magnolia sieboldii) and the bigleaf magnolia are two examples of magnolias that bloom during the late spring and summer months (Magnolia macrophylla). The Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), which is evergreen and retains its green color throughout the year, blooms in late spring and summer. It’s one of the most attractive trees in the world.
The pollen produced per flower is much lower than in wind-pollinated varieties because they devote more energy to the traits that attract insects rather than pollen production. Their pollen production is much lower than their wind-pollinated cousins because they devote more energy to these insect-attracting traits than pollen production. To pollinate their plants, they created flowers for beetles and flies, which were the primary pollinators 100 million years ago.
It doesn’t matter whether they’re early or late bloomers. Magnolias prefer moderate to warm climates that don’t deprive them of their growing buds. A good example is a Southern Magnolia, which grows well in USDA zones 7 through 10. Because the buds open before the last of the winter’s chill has passed, early-flowering magnolias can be sensitive to cold. Among the plants that prefer cool or moderate weather is the Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata), hardy in USDA zones 5-8. Its early flowers are damaged by late-night frost, and it is hardy in USDA zones 5 through 8. By protecting your magnolias from frost damage, you can ensure that you will be able to enjoy their blossoms on an annual basis
Magnolia Main Pollinator
If you compare Magnolia flowers to other, more specialized flowers, you’ll notice that they’re much more straightforward. Flowers with pollen structures are strategically placed so that insects searching for nectar will unintentionally bump into them and spread pollen as they amble from flower to flower on their quest for nectar rewards.
Millions of years ago, flightless beetles were the primary constituents of magnolia flowers, and they still are today. They are frequently referred to as “dumb pollinators.” Despite the fact that they are incapable of performing more advanced behaviors such as those displayed by butterflies and other pollinators, these poor insects receive a bad reputation. Butterflies and other “smarter” pollinators can perform advanced tasks such as extraordinary feats of flower manipulation to harvest the pollen, and many of them have an incredible memory when it comes to floral identification.
It is left to wander from flower to flower, mindless, although this insect has a principal role in developing magnolia flowers in their early stages.
As a result, there’s no reason to completely dismiss beetles as “dumb,” especially considering that magnolia flowers would not be possible without the assistance of these grunts of the pollinator world.
Pollen collection from delicate flower parts is not the primary function of beetle mouthparts designed for chewing. Thus, other plant parts are frequently consumed due to the pollen or nectar harvesting process that occurs during flowering. Magnolia flowers have leathery, thick leaves and seeds that are well protected from this kind of sloppiness because of their leathery, thick leaves.
Magnolias and their beetle companions are an odd couple in the worlds of plants and insects alike. However, their working relationship has resulted in producing some of our most beautiful flowering ornamental trees.
When you look at the many different families of beetles that visit magnolia flowers, you gain a new appreciation for their pollination responsibilities: sap-feeding beetles, tumbling flower beetles, leaf beetles, and weevils, to name a few examples.