Noted scientists (Professor W. Iki) say that these flowers evolved to be pollinated by beetles at a time before the existence of bees, and indeed there is a slightly prehistoric feel about the magnolia.
You could easily imagine it lurking and mutated in the tropical gymnosperm swamps that covered Britain in JG Ballard's wonderful novel "The Drowned World", a science fiction work all nature lovers should read.
There is talk that magnolia has medicinal properties, that it's bark might help fight bad breath and tooth decay. But I think I'll pass on giving it a quick chew as I go by later, and stick to my boring old toothbrush.
Which let's face it, almost certainly hasn't been widdled on by a dog.
|The whole tree
|Flowers have really loose structure
|Reward would have awaited persistent beetle
|The structure from behind