Saturday, 12 November 2011

Tree of the Month - Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip Tree)

The Tulip Tree in Autumn
Our Tree of the Month for November has to be the Liriodendron tulipifera, or Tulip Tree as it is commonly known,  and can be found at the bottom of the Kilndown Walk. This is one of our most eye catching trees due to its sheer size and location in the garden and during the autumn months it certainly stands out.

The Tulip Tree is native to the eastern side of North America and was introduced to England in 1688. It gets it's common name from both the shape of the leaves and  the flowers which resemble the shape of tulip petals.

The leaves are about 5 inches wide and are a beautiful rich-green colour in the summer months, turning a buttery-yellow in the autumn.

Tulip Trees can grow to quite a height, some are recorded at over 35m high in England, but they can grow to over 50m in their native North America.  They often have a straight trunk covered in pale grey bark which is furrowed and will turn a reddy-bronze colour as the tree ages in time. Due to their straight trunks they were once used by the natives of  North America  for building canoes, the tree was felled, the trunk hollowed out and then they had a perfect canoe which often held up to 20 people, and because of this these trees  were often referred to as "Canoe wood."

Buttery-yellow leaves shaped like a tulip

Tulip tree during the summer

The flowers of the Tulip Tree, shown below, are are green-and-orange, approximately 2 inches long and are abundant from June onwards but tend to be lost in the foliage so you often have to look hard for them. Once thistree has finished flowering the biscuit-brown seed heads are left to be present throughout the winter months.

Beautiful cream coloured
tulip shaped flowers

We have several Tulip Trees around the gardens at Scotney, from very young ones which have not yet produced flowers (they often have to be at least 15 years old to produce flowers) to our impressive specimen trees which are over 50 years old. Next time you visit Scotney see how many of these Tulip Trees you can spot, they really are beautiful trees!

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