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The Umbrella Tree M


M. tripetala, Linn.

The umbrella tree has an umbrella-like whorl of leaves surrounding the flower whose white cup stands above three recurving white sepals. The whole tree.suggests an umbrella, so closely thatched is its dome of thin, bright green leaves.

The stout contorted branches and twigs lack symmetry, from the forking habit. Side twigs strike out at right angles from an erect branch, then turn up into a position parallel with the parent branch, and bear terminal flowers, which induce another branching system the following year.

Despite its angularity this is the trimmest and one of the handsomest of our native magnolias, and it has the merit of hardiness even in New England, where it attains large size. Its native range extends from Pennsylvania near the coast, along the Atlantic seaboard, and westward to southern Alabama and Arkansas. It loves swamp borders and the banks of mountain streams, but behaves well in the moderately rich soil of parks and gardens.