Thursday, April 5, 2012

The real tulip tree

Species name: Liriodendron tulipfera

Common name: Tulip tree

Location: Ontario

Since the weather has been so sunny and bright lately, I've been thinking a lot about spring. And what would possibly make you think more of spring than flowers?!

The tulip tree is one of the native species of trees of Southwestern Ontario. Due to habitat loss, it is becoming more and more rare in the environment. It is rather slow-growing, making it not an idea ornamental tree if you require a lot of shade quickly, but it will grow to be a very large tree that has ideal characteristics to withstand the climate of this area. It produces very showy flowers in the late spring (late May, early June) that are a brilliant orange and yellow. Unlike Magnolia trees, they do not turn into a mess on your front lawn after flowering is done, and their flowers are much longer-lived than the non-native Magnolia trees. Tulip trees do not produce what you would traditionally think of as a "seed", so there's also very little risk of a bunch of baby tulip trees popping up out of the lawn in the early spring. Technically, tulip trees do not get their name from the shape of their flowers, but rather the shape of their leaves. Some early botanist thought they looked like tulip flowers he saw in Holland, and so the name stuck. I guess I don't have the imagination required to see that!

Do native species a favour and plant one today!