This is one of our favorite trees on Glen Road. No picture can really do it justice in showing its height and how majestic it stands. The tree is a Tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera. It is also called a yellow poplar, tulip poplar, tulip magnolia or a white wood. The Tulip tree is native to the eastern U.S. and is the state tree of Indiana and Tennessee. Here on Glen Road, our Tulip tree stands very straight and very, very tall, until you get to the top. At the top of the tree, there is a spot where the main trunk has a bend in it before it starts to grow straight again. We have been told this is most likely where the tree was struck by lightning.
The Tulip tree is one of the tallest trees in the forest. It may live 200 years. The tree is deciduous, meaning it loses its leaves on a seasonal basis. The Tulip tree is usually 70-90 feet tall. However, it has been known to reach more than 180 feet tall. The large, cup-shaped flowers don’t appear until the tree is between 15 and 25 years old. The flowers are hard to see when in the tree because they grow high above the ground. It is only when the wind blows them down that we are able to get a close-up view.
The Tulip tree leaf is simple and is shaped something like the outline of a Dutch tulip. It is bright green on the top and paler green underneath. In the Fall, it turns pale yellow. The flower is perfect. This means that it has both male and female parts. It has green petals with orange splotches at the bottom. The flowers appear in late May or early June. In the Fall, the tree will drop its fruit. The cone-shaped fruit is made up of clusters of samaras. Each samara holds two seeds. When the fruit dries and opens, the samaras scatter, carrying the seeds on the wind.
Tulip trees are very weak-wooded. This means the limbs often break during ice and wind storms. It is a good thing that our Tulip tree is near the end of the driveway and not near the house. The wood is light yellow and very easy to carve. That is why the wood is used today for crates, musical instruments, toys and roof shingles.
As we’ve said before, we love to grow unique plants here on Glen Road. While we didn’t plant our Tulip tree, we are so glad that it is here. Do you have any interesting trees or plants growing on your property that you can share with us here on Acorns On Glen?