The Flower of All Flowers
From time immemorial many people have given the name ran (란) (orchid) to fragrant and beautiful flowers.
Kim Il Sung called Korean magnolia the Mokran (Mok [목] means a tree–Tr.) in the sense that it is a ran which blossoms in a tree. Magnolia has unusually attractive flowers and a sweet fragrance. Furthermore, its fruit is fleshy and its leaves are attractive. So this flower is loved by the Korean people.
Magnolia grows to a height of some 2-5 metres, and its stem is greyish brown or greyish white and smooth. The twigs are of light-brown fibre. Its leaves are oval or obovoid and are also alternate. They are some 6-20 centimetres long and 4-10 centimetres wide with a short petiole. The margin of the blade is straight and smooth; at its base it is narrow, but it spreads out to become wide at the top. The upper part of the leaf is dark green and smooth and the lower part is whitish green with light-brown fibre; the leaves are eventually shed. There are between 6 and 13 pairs of veins, with those at the lower part of the leaf being bulbous. Although there are regional differences, the leaves generally begin to appear at the beginning of April, and by April 25 they cover the whole crown of the tree. At the end of October the leaves turn yellow and after a while are shed.
In May and June when the earth is covered with verdant growth snow-white flowers with a diametre of between 7 and 10 centimetres begin to bloom at the tips of its smooth branches. Six to nine conelike petals open one after another and, from among them, yellow pistils and pinkish and light-purple stamens make their appearance. The sizes and colours of the petals and the pistils and stamens are so harmonious that the more one looks at the flower, the more one is fascinated by it.
Based on: FLPH - Magnolia Sieboldii, Korea's National Flower