Magnolia

   About thirty-five widely distributed species of Magnolia exist in North America, Mexico, and in eastern Asia and the Himalayas. They are chiefly small trees, both evergreen and deciduous, with stout, aromatic twigs and branches. The hardiest of the Magnolias are widely planted as ornamental. They are handsome in shape, foliage, and especially in flower. In the South, they reach an astronomical 100 feet.
   The name for these beautiful flowering shrubs and trees was an honor bestowed on Pierre Magnol (1638-1715), a professor of botany at Montpelier University in France. Magnol, a Protestant, had a difficult time getting an education in mostly Catholic France. His courses in botany made him prominent, and eventually put him in the good graces of Swedish scientist Carolus Linnaeus, who honored him by naming the beautiful Magnolia tree after him because he had originated the classification of plants by families, a scientific innovation.
   The tree was introduced into Europe from Japan about 1709, while Magnol was alive, but the tree was not named until after his death.

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

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