May 22 2010

Flowers in the Trees

Published by at 7:13 am under Phenology,Trees


Here’s something you don’t see every day:  a tulip tree flower.

Right now the tulip trees are blooming but you can’t see the flowers because the trees are very tall, the flowers are at the top, and the leaves hide the flowers from below.

Tulip trees (Liriodendron tulipifera) are sometimes called “tulip poplars” but they’re actually in the magnolia family.  Like magnolias their flowers are showy and attractive to bees — so attractive that tulip trees are considered one of our major honey plants.

Have you ever smelled these flowers?  I haven’t.  I’m lucky when I see them.

And I remind myself when I complain about Pittsburgh’s hills that they have this advantage:  I can stand on a hill and look down on the flowers in the trees.

(photo by Chuck Tague)

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Flowers in the Trees”

  1. myontzon 22 May 2010 at 10:19 pm

    I wish I could send you the smell in a bottle. We have a lot of these trees in our woods and along the road that I walk. They smell heavenly! In the early morning, if I walk out the road the smell just fills the air. It does not seem to be as strong this year, but I think that is because of all the rain we have had.

    Walking in the early morning this time of year until the middle of June is my favorite time of year. The wild honey suckle will soon be blooming which adds another dimension to natures aroma.

  2. jean norrison 24 May 2010 at 5:48 pm

    I have two of them in my front yard. I have never smelled them. They are beautiful to look at and yes, you have to go far away to be able to look up high enough to see the flowers.

    They are kind of dirty trees, in as much as they lose the petals very quickly and they are all over the place.

    I still wouldn’t trade them for anything as they keep my house very cool in the summer.

  3. Sabra Khanon 27 May 2010 at 7:35 pm

    I have smelled the orange and green colored flowers of the Tulip Poplar. To my nose they smell mildly of tropical fruit. Maybe of mango, papaya, guava or some other tropical fruit, but it’s not a strong fragrance. Mild but definitely exotic and fleeting.

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