An evergreen magnolia relative – many consider all Michelia to now be in genus Magnolia – with large leathery leaves and axillary flowers with a dozen or more 3½-inch long, broad white petals with the feel of light kidskin. The dozens of stamens are arranged spirally on a central core – a reminder that this primitive tree family harks back to the days when conifers were only just beginning to diversify.
A young specimen in a lawn east of the Stauffer III building and half way to the southwest corner of Old Chemistry, is marked by a stone honoring Emeritus Professor Bud Homsy. Planted in 1996, and twelve feet tall in 2003, it is flowering, and is named “Bud’s Tree.”
Variety ‘Silver Cloud’ was planted in fall 2001 on the north side of Sequoia Hall at Lomita Mall, and the north side of Braun Hall. The latter disappeared soon after. Another example about 7 feet tall was planted in spring 2013 north of the fountain in front of the Bing Wing of Green Library, replacing the dead Laburnum ‘Vossii’, which replaced the dead maytens. It too was removed a couple of years later.
A splendid 25-foot tree at 560 Lemon Street, Menlo Park, is covered with spectacular blossom by early February, while the pale greenish brown ½- by 2-inch flower buds are waiting in abundance in preparation for a long flowering season. Another attractive specimen is at Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden Center, in front of the Carriage House.
Michelia is an important timber tree in the Himalayas.
Illustrations: Bud’s Tree, just past the height of bloom, 14 Feb 2006.
Name derivation: Michelia – Pietro Mecheli (1670–1737), Florentine botanist noted for work on fungi; doltsopa – Tibetan name for plant.
About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. John Rawlings noted the Sequoia Hall & Green locations. Sairus Patel added the notes on genus Magnolia and removal of the Green tree Jan 2018.