Aug. 3, 2020

sweetbay, Magnolia virginiana

Type specimens are the individual specimens used for the original description of a plant. The species name comes from that description and publication. It follows that type species is the first described for a genus, or a family, an order and so on through the plant kingdom. All this comes up today because sweetbay is the type for genus Magnolia, for its family, and for order Magnoliales. It was a specimen of this American native that Carl Linnaeus worked from in 1753 to describe the very first species in his binomial system of nomenclature. Interesting that he chose a plant that is believed to be in the most primitive genus. That was of course before Darwin and modern understandings of evolution. Do you think he had a clue? Sweetbay grows in AL, AR, DE, FL, GA, LA, MA(E), MD, MS, NC, NJ, NY(E), PA(T), SC, TN(T), TX, and VA. Matthaei Gardens, University of Michigan, 6/30/15. Magnolia family, Magnoliaceae.