The state quarter of the southern state of Mississippi features a prominent bouquet of magnolia flowers, the state flower and tree since 1952. The distinctive magnolia blossom, with broad and durable petals in a myriad of colors, still can be found on trees throughout the bayous and byways of Mississippi. When referring to the state, many call it "The Magnolia State."
Grouped under the genus Magnoliaceae, which was officially catalogued by Frenchman Pierre Magnol, the magnolia could be any one of about 200 species of bush and tree found throughout the southern United States. Some shed with the seasons, while those farther south are generally more evergreen. According to anthropologists, the magnolia genus has existed for almost 100,000,000 years, which is older than even the bees and other flying insects now needed to cross-pollinate their often massive flowers.
The evergreen Magnoliaeae grandiflora, is an iconic and prominent example, with its shiny leaves and white flowers giving the downwind breeze a distinctive aroma. Another prominent variety found in "The Magnolia State" is the saucer magnolia, or Magnoliaeae soulangeana, with flowers in more vibrant colors. The figo species blooms in violet, and other species sport yellow, red or light pink flowers.
Though striking, many magnolia species are not as hardy as other locals like the pin oaks and pines. It takes many as long as a decade to even mature enough to bloom. Others, however, like the grandiflora species can thrive in soil as dry as beach sand. Most others require richly fertilized soil, regular water, pruning and full sun to achieve a steady, noticeable growth.
"The Magnolia State" is a nickname that could have been used to describe many geographical regions. Magnolia species are native to large swaths of the American East, though mostly in the South. They are also found throughout parts of Asia, Central and South America, and even the island nations of the West Indies.
Mississippi is named after its most prominent natural feature and nicknamed "The Magnolia State" for another feature. The state is not confined to just those names, though. "The Bayou State" is another popular name, hearkening to the state's rural, backwater flavor. Other common nicknames are "The Eagle State" or "Border-Eagle State," since the state's coat of arms features that native animal. This state is also known as the "Mud Waddler," "Mud Cat" or "Groundhog State" — all references to common fish or fauna found throughout the state.