Friday, April 1, 2011

One of the Best Smells in the World

Every year I put out at least one blog post on one of my favorite shrubs of all time.  It's the seldom praised Michelia figo, more commonly known as banana shrub or magnolia fuscata.  

In the spring (and some in the fall too) it forms hairy, bulbous buds that soon turn this creamy white and burst forth to release the most amazing and wondrous fragrance imaginable.  The fragrance is like Juicy Fruit gum, only better, and I have yet to ever meet a person who doesn't nearly swoon over it.

As you can see, the blooms aren't all that showy and don't really stand out.  You would never guess by looking that they put out such a heavenly fragrance.  My large shrub will fill nearly the whole yard with fragrance when the wind is not blowing.  It makes a walk in the yard pure delight.  You can take several blooms into your house and they will keep their odor and fill a room with it for several hours.

If the flowers aren't all that showy, the plant IS.  It makes a full, voluptuous shrub with shiny green leaves that are evergreen.  The plant can get over 12' tall down here in Louisiana and somewhat resembles a magnolia.  It appreciates part shade - the leaves will be more yellow in full sun.  Mine is thriving on the Northeast corner of my house next to this Formosa azalea.  It prefers loamy, slightly acid soil with plenty enough moisture.  This plant makes a wonderful part shade shrub to use as a background to more colorful plants.  It could also be used as a slow growing hedge.  It is unbelievable to me that this plant is not more widely known and grown.


meemsnyc said...

Ooh, I've never heard of this shrub before. Is it related to the magnolia tree? I love the scent of magnolia trees is it anything like that?

Davy Barr said...

It's supposed to be in the same family as the Southern magnolia tree. The scent is really nothing like magnolia to me though. Magnolia is more lemony while this is more like a banana.

Mom2Poms said...

I have one and it is amazing. Unfortunately I didn't realize how big it gets and will have to move it as it is right beside my back porch. It was labeled 'little gem' magnolia. It is in the third year and already huge and spreading.

Susan said...

Love this one. In fact I plan on adding another to my garden. The fragrance is so wonderful!