Vanishing Acts: Chinese Magnolia

By James Moody

Chinese Magnolia
Chinese Magnolia Blooms

The Chinese Magnolia, Magnolia officinalis, is a large tree found in broad-leaved forests in central China. Although it is widely distributed throughout China, the population of Magnolia officinalis occurring in the wild has been greatly diminished and is limited to a number of protected areas. Medicines extracted from the bark of this tree have been used for thousands of years. Stripping of bark from wild trees and the decline in native forest habitat has lead to a 50% reduction in the number of wild Chinese magnolias over the last three generations. The number of mature individuals is not known but due to over-harvesting of its valuable bark, the current size of the wild population is very small. It is therefore assessed as Endangered. Today the species is widely cultivated in order to supply bark to the commercial market.
In 2012, public outreach activities in China began to help raise awareness of the problem of the dwindling number of wild Chinese magnolias. Efforts to reintroduce specimens into the wild along with educational programs on the sustainable use of the tree are in place in Hunan Province. To help protect this tree for the future, you could support the Global Trees Campaign, a project working to boost conservation efforts for threatened magnolias.

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Vanishing Acts: Trees Under Threat was developed and produced by The Morton Arboretum in association with the Global Trees Campaign, a partnership between Fauna and Flora International and Botanic Gardens Conservation International.

Funding for this exhibit comes from The Morton Arboretum and the U.S. Institute for Museum and Library Services, Museums for America Grant Program.

Support locally comes from LG&E and KU. Additional support provided by Shepherdsville/Bullitt County Tourism.

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