All About the Magnolia Tree

While out and about exploring the school yard with my student I noticed something new on the Magnolia Tree. As usual, I shared what I was seeing, since my student cannot see. “Come look at this! It is so cool!” Then off we went, tapping the white cane over the grass on the way to the VERY large tree situated right next to the driveway. The trees dark green, shiny leaves were in sharp contrast with the soft pink, fuzzy cone-shaped seed pods. I reached up and pulled down a branch so that my student could explore this very unique thing that we found! Later, when we looked it up, we learned that the cone-shaped seed pod is called a follicle and it is the birthplace and nursery for magnolia seeds. At the time that we found them, the brilliant red seeds were popping out of the follicles and falling to the ground. Birds, squirrels and other critters eat these and many end up on the ground, where, I explained they may become a future Magnolia Tree. As my student felt the follicle, we noted the shapes of the seeds (kind of like pumpkin seeds), the fuzzy seed pod and other aspects of this neat invention. My 10 year-old student took a lot of pleasure in picking out the seeds, smelling them, squishing them and then flicking them out into the bushes, where I am sure some bird was happy to receive them! We took a walk around the tree and noted that the cones were everywhere and in various phases of decay. On this day and throughout the next month or so, we looked at the many phases (and colors) of the follicle, from soft, fuzzy and pink to dark brown, dried and decaying on the ground. I am pretty sure, my student — thanks to his weekly hands-on learning activities in O&M class, knows more about the many phases of trees, shrubs and flowers than most adults! I am thankful to have the wonderful opportunity to explore, share and learn with my students each and every week.

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