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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera

I should have planted a tulip tree Liriodendron tulipifera in my youth. I've hankered after one ever since I first saw a magnificent specimen in the garden of The Wakes, Gilbert White's home at Selborne in Hampshire, about 40 years ago. It's a bit late to plant one now, because they take a decade to reach flowering size..... but on the other hand there is an old gardening adage that says that you should plant as though you're going to live for ever - so maybe I will. The handsome, cup-shaped flowers are usually carried high up on the tree, so you need binoculars or  telephoto lens to admire them...
... but you can appreciate the unusual leaves from ground level. Each looks as though it has been snipped off at the tip with a pair of scissors. When they first emerge from the buds in spring they're on long stalks and the leaf is folded up the middle, lengthways, so each looks like a miniature flag - until the blade unfolds, rather like a book opening.

Liriodendron tulipifera is native to the eastern United States, where it grows to a height of 180 feet ............ not, then, a tree for a small suburban garden, but space isn't a problem when your botanic garden is digital.

17 comments:

  1. This tree just makes it into our area as a native. There are some utterly massive specimens a couple hours south of me - the trees in flower really are quite spectacular!

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  2. Hi beetlesinthebush, they must be a wonderful sight - I wish this tree was planted more often in England. We have a 50 year-old specimen at Durham University that flowers quite well, but it's still a youngster...

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  3. Hi Phil it is always good to plant a tree, no such thing as a bit too late, there will always be people who will admire and appreciate them. Just dont be expecting too much from it, the newly generated Oxygen it generates is enough. On the other hand, if you cant plant it on the ground, then you already have done it, in this site. haha!

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  5. Come on, Phil; plant one now for kids to love and admire.
    And just planting it will give you that satisfaction of having planted it.

    Aren't you yourself saying that there are ONLY 50 trees in the country? You could make that 51!
    Great post though.

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  6. I think I will Andrea - my garden is already full of trees but - as you say - there's always room for one more!

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  7. You're right Yoke, I should - I planted a Ginkgo last year that's doing well and a tulip tree would keep it company....

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  8. le tulipier, un travail d'├ęcole de mon fils...il y a bien longtemps!

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  9. This post has been included in the latest edition of the Berry Go Round web carnival. Please visit the carnival and let other people know about it, click on the links, read everything, and help promote plant blogging! The plants can not do this themselves, people!

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  10. Thanks Greg, I'm delighted. I'll follow your instructions...

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  11. A great tree, there are hundreds in my neighborhood.

    The petals do fall in the spring while they still look quite interesting, so you can get a close-up view. Later the fruits (samaras) fall and have a sharp bit that can hurt bare feet on hard surfaces.

    Generally, a nice straight tree in our woodlands. Come to North Carolina in the US to check them out.

    Love the Berry Go Round carnival.

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  12. Hi Lynn, I'd love to see the tree in its natural habitat - in England there are just isolated specimens. I've never seed the seeds here. Thanks for visiting.

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  13. Hello - I'm here via Berry Go Round. By coincidence I made my own post on tulip trees a few days ago - but my photos of the flowers are very inferior to yours!

    I live in the northeastern USA, technically a little bit beyond the northern edge of the Tulip tree's natural range, but planted specimens can obviously still do well in the right location.

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  14. Hi RPS77 - and thanks for visiting. I hadn't made the connection - until I visited your blog - between the shape of the leaves and the name tulip tree. Enjoyed reading your blog - I'll be back. Best wishes, Phil

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  15. Thanks for visiting and following my blog. I'll be doing the same with all of your blogs - it looks like there are lots of interesting posts!

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  16. We have a tulip tree in our back garden in North London, United Kingdom. Planted in 1987 it has just started flowering in the summer of 2011. The latitude is about 51.7 degrees north and I think this is one of the northernmost of the species in the world.

    Ali Ismail

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  17. Hi Ali, I wish I had room for one in my garden - it's one of my favourite trees.... best wishes, Phil

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