Tulip

March 14, 2022

On our way home Sunday, we dropped by our friend’s house to pick up supplies for the display Melissa is planning for the local Farmer’s Market in May.  They had made a run to Florida and as always hit the flea markets and garage sales along the way.  This provides the items for her resale business, and she had picked up a variety of interesting pot for Melissa’s succulents.  We took this opportunity to say hello to Eddie.  Eddie had been ecstatic when they picked him up two days ago and was now again ecstatic to see us.  You have got to love puppies.  As we drove out of their subdivision, we noticed a tulip tree in full bloom on one of the street corners.  It was too early for the tree to bloom, but this year’s temperature fluctuations make the plants crazy.

When I looked online, I found the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), also called the tulip poplar, yellow poplar, or canoe wood, is one of the largest native trees in North America.  Liriodendron is a genus of two species of large deciduous trees in the magnolia family (Magnoliaceae).  The tree is widely known by the common name for the large flowers superficially resembling tulips.  The botanical name originates from Greek, as Liriodendron means “lily tree”, and tulipifera means “bringing forth tulips”.  There are two extant species, the Liriodendron tulipifera is native to eastern North America, and the Liriodendron chinense is native to China and Vietnam.  Both species can grow to great size.  The North American species reaches a mature height of 70-90 feet (21-27 meters) and a width of 35-50 feet (10-15 meters).  In the small valleys of Appalachia (cove forests) the tree is known to reach the height of 191.8 feet (58.49 meters).

The tulip tree produces goblet-shaped, orange-yellow-green flowers in late spring after the leaves have already emerged.  The cone-like seed clusters sit upright on the branches.  The tree provides many forms of food for animals.  In fall and winter, young trees are browsed by white-tailed deer and rabbits.  The spring flowers provide nectar for ruby-throated hummingbirds.  Tulip tree seeds mature in summer and persist into winter, providing food for both birds (finches, cardinals, and quail) and mammals (mice, squirrels, and rabbits).  The golden-yellow fall color of makes it an excellent choice for large landscapes.  This tulip fit well on the corner lot of the subdivision.

THOUGHTS:  The tulip trees of North America are commonly used horticulturally.  The tulip was favored by loggers for railroad ties and fence posts and are now used for furniture.  George Washington planted tulip trees at Mount Vernon which are now 140 feet tall.  Canoe wood refers to the tree’s use in construction of dugout canoes by eastern Native Americans, and Daniel Boone used the wood of this tree for his 60′ canoe.  While the tulip tree is sought after for its tall, straight trunks, the tree has grown in popularity as an ornamental landscape feature.  Its size requires a large lot, but when allowed to mature it creates an impressive display throughout the year.  When we nurture and allow our youth room to mature, they also have the potential to be impressive.  Nurture seems to be a greater force in shaping a child than nature.  The potential is there for them all.  Do the work.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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