On Friday 7 April 2017, the Attorney-General for the ACT, Mr Gordon Ramsay MLA, joined His Excellency the Honourable Baron Divavesi Waqa, President of the Republic of Nauru, and Madam Louisa Waqa, to plant a Magnolia loebneri 'Merrill' in the Central Valley of the National Arboretum Canberra.
Magnolia loebneri 'Merrill', commonly called Loebner magnolia, is a small tree growing to a maximum height of around 8 metres with a rounded crown. Large and fragrant star-like flowers, white blushed with pink, appear in early spring before the foliage. Flowers give way to cone-like fruits that ripen to red in late summer, releasing individual red coated seeds suspended on slender threads at maturity. 'Merrill' is noted for its good winter hardiness.
The Loebner magnolia is a deciduous hybrid magnolia (M. kobus x M. stellata). The 'Merrill' cultivar was developed at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston from seed sown in 1939, and was subsequently named in 1952 in honor of Elmer Drew Merrill, botanist and one-time director of the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. The genus name honours Pierre Magnol, French botanist (1638-1715), and the species name honours Max Loebner, a German horticulturist, who made the first cross of this hybrid in the early 1900s.
Ceremonial trees planted from around the world
The National Arboretum Canberra is home to over 44,000 trees from more than one hundred nations. Many Australian and international leaders and public figures have planted ceremonial trees at the National Arboretum, including Their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge; His Excellency Jose Ramos-Horta, President of the Republic of Timor-Leste; renowned Australian author, Mr Thomas Keneally and Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.
Through ceremonial tree plantings and other special events, the National Arboretum Canberra builds partnerships with local, national and international organisations, individuals and communities to further its role in global tree conservation and research.