Mystery Flora: Las Princesas

The wildflowers haven’t really popped yet, but the domesticated ones certainly have. We’ve got trees putting on spectacular shows all over the city. When I headed down to Kirkland after visiting North Creek Park, driving the city streets was an exercise in enchantment. Kirkland’s beautiful anyway, but with tulips and daffodils and great big flowering trees lining the roads, it’s utterly gorgeous right now.

These mystery trees are particular favorites of mine. They seem to come in both white and pink, and the enormous blooms are spectacular. They make me feel like I’m in some fairytale setting.

Mystery Flower I

Ya’ll know these mystery flora posts are just an excuse for me to post pretty pictures, right? I thought so. Also, it’s a bragging right: I tell people all the time that my readers are up to any challenge and have a fine aesthetic sense. I like bragging about you guys. I also like taking pictures of flowers. I’m happy these two interests coincide so beautifully.

Speaking of beautiful:

Mystery Flower II

This is Heritage Park, which stands above Lake Washington near Kirkland’s adorable little downtown area. It’s just a short walk up from the shops on Market Street, actually. The views of the lake are pretty much obscured by the trees, but that doesn’t matter much. Especially right now, when the trees are putting on such a lovely show.

Mystery Flower III

I don’t actually know with certainty that the white and the pink flowering trees are just different varieties of the same species. I suppose it’s possible they’re just very closely related. I’d make a horrible botanist. I get so wrapped up in how gorgeous the flowers look against the sky that I forget to look at the minutiae.

Mystery Flower IV

I can, however, report that both trees are smooth-barked. The flowers have elongate petals, and – oooo, pretty!

Mystery Flower V

You know, it’s pathetic. Show me a tree, just your basic tree, and I can concentrate. I can look at things like whether it has leaves or needles, make some assessments of leaf structure, wax philosophical about photosynthesis, and possibly even identify a species or two based on observed characteristics. This, of course, is granted I’m not cursing them out for blocking my geology. And I’m not really good at it yet, but I do try.

Show me a tree with flowers, and I lose my shit.

Mystery Flower VI

Can you blame me? It’s like sticking shiny minerals right next to plain brown rocks and asking a person with only a minimal interest in geology not to get distracted by the shimmery stuff.

Mystery Flower VII

Judging by the immature leaves, though, I can make a prediction that you flora identification experts will come back with a tree that isn’t tropical. The leaves are on the thin side, and don’t have that lush, thick, waxy appearance we see on trees that evolved in the tropics. But I suspect, from the lack of serration on the edges and the well-defined drip-tip, that these beauties evolved in warm, wet temperate areas. Probably warmer, if not wetter, than Seattle.

And that’s about all the science I can manage before melting into a puddle of goo.

Mystery Flower VIII

Too beautiful for words. And yet, how much more beautiful would it be if I understood the science behind it?

Mystery Flora: Las Princesas

9 thoughts on “Mystery Flora: Las Princesas

  1. 4

    The flower is commonly called Japanese Magnolia, though it is actually from the mountains of Sichuan, China. We have a magnificent specimen in our yard.

  2. 5

    We have a lot of these in Houston too. I can’t give you a scientific name, but they are often called slipper magnolias. And I agree, they are really pretty.

  3. 6

    Yes, my wikipedia research, such as it is leads to a hybrid magnolia from Asia. From what I understand the individuals who named the Seattle neighborhood of Magnolia where confused. The native tree in the area known as madrona or Arbutus menziesii, part of the Azalea family, I believe, have small white flowers like magnolia in the southern US, they are not the same. Someone will correct me I am sure, I have checked other sources. However, I am an educated ameuter. Feel free to correct my ignorance.

  4. 7

    Various magnolias … which are confused by various hybrids between species, cutting-grown cultivars, local names for the same cultivars, and fads in planitng.

    Flashy, and some of them are very cold-tolerant.

  5. Ann

    My guess is Magnolia liliiflora sometimes called Japanese magnolia or Mulan magnolia, or Tulip tree or Red magnolia.

  6. rq

    Missed another flower ID.
    I remember magnolias because they were important in botany due to the fact that they have a ‘primitive’ structure, something to do with unfused flower parts or some such. Very pretty, though. I miss them.

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