Rehder & Wilson
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It is a deciduous tree growing to 20m in height. The bark is thick and brown but does not fissure. The leaves are broad, ovate, 20-40 cm long and 11-20 cm broad. The flowers are fragrant, 10-15 cm wide, with 9-12 (rarely to 17) white tepals, and appear from May to June.
There are two varieties:
- Magnolia officinalis var. officinalis, which has leaves with an acute apex.
- Magnolia officinalis var. biloba, which has leaves with a notch at the apex. This variety does not appear in the wild, and is only known in cultivation. It is possibly not a true variety at all, but actually a cultigen instead, though this has yet to be determined.
M. officinalis differs very little from Magnolia obovata; the only difference that is consistently observed between the two being that the fruit aggregate of M. officinalis has a rounded base, while that of M. obovata has an acute base. Further research may or may not eventually determine if M. officinalis should be treated as a subspecies of M. obovata (Hunt 1998).
The highly aromatic bark is stripped from the stems, branches, and roots and used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is known as hou po (thus the common names). The traditional use indications are to eliminate damp and phlegm, and relieve distension.
Today, the bulk of bark used for commercial and domestic use is supplied by plants in cultivation.
- Cirrus Digital: Houpu Magnolia - Magnolia officinalis
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