Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tulip Tree


Years ago, I met a man who did not believe there were Tulip Trees; snorted at the very idea. I remember staring at him in disbelief. It was like saying he did not believe in Maples or Oaks or trees even. I could not get my head around it. If he had never seen one, then I was making them up. He huffed through his whiskers, muttering about tulips on trees. We had been having a spirited conversation about morels. I merely mentioned that I had heard that morels loved Tulip Trees and to make sure to look around their base. He wandered off shaking his head. I did not realize what a narrow range the trees had.

Years later, I had a house guest that had never heard of Tulip Trees either. But as luck would have it, he was visiting at a time when they were blooming. On a walk in the woods, we came across a perfect tulip blossom lying on the path where it had fallen in the night. The smile of delight on his face as he turned the flower in his hands; then looked up at the towering tree was truly a sight to behold.

I will always remember both of these fellows when I see the flowers of a Tulip Tree.

Tulip Trees are in the magnolia family. They can grow to staggering heights, have beautiful straight trunks, and look like Greek columns standing in an emerald glade. It is the tallest and one of the largest trees in the woods. I love the "gentleman of the forest". They usually produce their first flowers when they are 15 to 20 years old and may continue blooming for 200 years. 200 years! The flowers bloom from April to June and last from 2 to 6 weeks at a time. They are blooming now. So when you are out, make sure to look up.

Make sure to check out Festival of the Trees, Edition 36 is up at Roundrock Journal.

8 comments:

Wren said...

There was quite a large in my backyard as a child. I liked the tree, even though it was only later I figured out what it was.

Anonymous said...

They are such great trees, aren't they? I like your new format, btw. The picture is great!

Kim

deejbrown said...

I have been rejoicing these days over the tulip trees; I see them to and fro on my daily commute. They are one of my faves!

Anonymous said...

You take amazing pictures!

egretsnest said...

We have a tree out here that we call a tulip tree -- nothing like yours, of course. I'd love to see yours in person. Truly beautiful!

Dave said...

Good post about one of my favorite trees. They make great yard trees, too - they grow straight and tall even in the open, and the seedlings are easy to transplant.

I must admit I've fallen into the habit of calling them tulip poplars, which sounds more believable to the uninitiated, I think. Foresters call them yellow poplars, for some reason -- as you point out, they're actually in the magnolia family.

The Natural Capital said...

"like greek columns in an emerald glade" -- well put. Love these trees.

Lupine Lady said...

I happened upon your blog when looking for references about lightning and tulip trees. It's a beautiful photo. I have a wonderful tulip tree that is a volunteer from wood chips I begged from a tree trimmer. I was happy to read your info about their blooming after 15-20 years because a friend had said 30. Since I am in my 60s, I now have hope that I'll see it bloom someday. My tree is about 8 years old I think and is growing fast. My life frequently takes me near a tulip tree that is quite old, growing near a very old and large beech tree, so I can watch the blooming period. Two favorite trees.... thanks for posting about the tulip tree.