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Tulip Trees Flowering

6-26-19 tulip tree2 0U1A0105The Tulip Tree,(Liriodendron tulipifera), one of our largest native trees, is a member of the magnolia family. There may not be a more appropriately-named tree in all the land, for the likeness of its orange and yellow goblet-like flowers and the shape of its leaves to that of tulips is undeniable. Although large in size (2” in length) the flowers can go unnoticed because they are usually found high up on the 60 – 90-foot tree, and they don’t appear until the leaves are fully developed.

Tulip Trees flower for only two to six weeks. Pollination must occur when the flowers are young, and they are often receptive only for 12 to 24 hours. The flowers produce large quantities of nectar for pollinating insects such as flies, beetles, honey bees and bumblebees, but they are not very efficient pollinators and many seeds do not develop. Those that do form cone-shaped seed heads that may remain on the tree after the leaves have fallen.

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14 responses

  1. Alice Pratt

    Just curious, Mary, how did you take such a pretty photo of the elusive Tulip Tree flower?

    June 26, 2019 at 9:13 am

    • I was actually photographing nesting orioles in an elm near the tulip tree and hadn’t even noticed it was a tulip tree until an oriole flew into it! The orange on him and on the flowers was striking!

      June 26, 2019 at 12:21 pm

      • Alice Pratt

        You must have photos of that!

        June 26, 2019 at 2:57 pm

  2. Bill On The Hill

    Hi Mary… The Tulip Tree is simply a magnificent tree to behold…
    I still have such fond memories of one such tree in the backhills of Higganum CT back in the late 70’s on a privately owned campsite we camped at on the weekends.
    ( 4 ) of us back then, could not touch fingers when we wrapped our arms around a humongous tulip tree. It literally towered above all other species of trees, we couldn’t see the top! I would call this tree the ” Ent ” of New England…
    Bill… :~)

    June 26, 2019 at 10:15 am

  3. You’ve got me, Bill…”Ent???”

    June 26, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    • Bill On The Hill

      Lord of the Rings – Middle Earth… :~)

      June 27, 2019 at 7:54 am

  4. Jean Harrison

    I’ve always considered Liriodendron tulipifera to be one of the two most beautiful tree names. I can’t recal lright now what the other one is.

    June 26, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    • I couldn’t agree more…perhaps Tilia Americana?

      June 26, 2019 at 6:09 pm

  5. Henry Homeyer

    Mary, Are there any of these in the Upper Valley? I know them from New York city’s Central Park and points south. Henry

    June 26, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    • Hi Henry,
      Yes, the one I photographed is in Hartland and I heard of another one also in Hartland, I believe. I wasn’t aware they grew this far north either until recently.

      June 26, 2019 at 7:19 pm

      • Maine naturalist

        One of my uncles planted one in Lenox, MA about 15 years ago. It’s growing rapidly. That’s obviously a little more moderate than where you live, though.

        The unfortunate reality is that these transplantations from farther south are doing just fine and will continue to do so as the climate warms. I’m engaged in a common-garden experiment with sites across Maine that is tracking the growth, phenology, and survival of a range of species, some native to the NE and some from further south. It’ll be interesting to see whether this rather cold and snowy winter knocked back the southern species any.

        June 29, 2019 at 2:15 pm

      • I would love to know the results of your research!

        June 30, 2019 at 11:26 am

      • Maine naturalist

        I’m not the lead on this research project, only a participant. When we have something to share, I’ll be in touch!

        July 3, 2019 at 11:47 am

  6. Barry Avery

    Mine was in full flower but I was finding remnant, of the flowers all over my driveway under the Tree. Seems that a Squirrel was eating the ovary after pulling off all the petals.

    June 27, 2019 at 8:17 am

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