A splice between two Magnolia tree species from Asia, saucer magnolia (Magnolia × soulangeana) is a botanical hybrid created by the French botanist Etienne Soulange-Bodin in the 18th century. A popular garden ornamental, flower petals from of the saucer magnolia often fall on urban sidewalks, where the shoe prints of passing pedestrians leave geometric tread patterns on the soft tissue of the discarded petals.
As the tree itself is a product of the human botanical imagination, the life cycle of the flowers of saucer magnolia reflect the increasingly humanized contemporary botanical landscape. Originally evolved to attract pollinating insects, remnants of the blossom now function a kind of accidental floral memory that records the flow of human foot traffic adjacent the parent tree. Browning and becoming less sensitive with age, the petals preserve impressions from different time periods, graphing both the density of human footfall, and the contrast between recent and earlier footmarks.
Pollinated primarily by beetles, magnolias are thought to be one of the oldest flowering plants in the world, appearing in the fossil record millions of years before the more advanced insect pollinators like bees, butterflies, and moths, Saucer magnolia exists at the intersection between human horticultural practices, benefical insect pollinators like the tumbling flower beetle, and predatory insect species like the larvae of the omnivorous looper moth. Floralfauna are spawned from the same intersection - hybrid creatures of the human imagination that blend, merge, and cross pollinate the blurred boundaries between human, tree, and insect that characterize the engineered botanies of our contemporary ecological condition..