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Do tulips grow on trees?

Will the real tulip tree please stand up? – a flower blog

The tulip tree is tree of the year 2019! Tree cultivars had to choose the best shade and shelter tree. The tulip tree won with 60% of the votes. Do you know what this tree looks like?

lime tree lane towards castle near Hague
Lime tree lane towards castle near Hague

Cool Dutch estates

Summers in the Netherlands are getting warmer. People look for shade and cool places more often, especially in the cities. The tree cultivation sector picks a theme each year. Focus for 2019 is the avenue tree, also known as shade and shelter tree. You can find them in abundance at the entrance of 17th century estates, like Landgoed de Horsten near The Hague.

tulip tree in autumn. Photo by Jan Hengstmengsel

Tulip pop(u)lar

The (American) tulip tree is native to the Eastern US. There,the lumber industry loves it of its white-wood.  This shade and shelter tree can reach heights of more than 100 feet. It grows real fast, like a poplar and therefore is also called tulip poplar.  An amazingly beautiful example is in the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden. This hortus is also the place where you find the historical garden of Clusius. Clusius brought the tulip bulbs to the Netherlands.

 

Tree that bears tulips

The tulip tree is not a tree full of tulips. I often thought it was another name for Magnolia.  The scientific name is Liriodendron tulpifera. Tulipifera means tulip-bearing.  Liriodendron means lily tree. Liriodendron is a sub family of the Magnoliaceae. The Magnolia is another subfamily of the Magnoliaceae. So, the tulip tree is family of the Magnolia, but not the same tree.

Magnolia, the tree on the left. The right one, in the background is a cherry tree

Tulips till June

The name of the tulip tree derives from the shape of the flowers: these look like tulips. Different than the tulips, the Liriodendron tulpifera blooms in June. Actually this is a good thing: this way you can see tulip (look-a-likes) from March till June! So, when the last ‘regular’ tulips have bloomed you can look out for the tree version!

late tulips of May

Tulip mania tree

You won’t find flowers on the  young Liriodendron tulipifera, it takes at least 15 years for the tree to bloom. Then again, like the writer in this article also states, the tree can become 450 years old. It does bloom many many years.  The flowers are orange-green and huge. That’s why, from the Golden Age till present time, the tulip tree is so popular in parks and estates. Can you imagine that during the tulip mania, when the tree was just introduced in Europe, people couldn’t believe there actually was a tree earing tulips? What a excitement that would have given!  I love spotting them in the estates near Amsterdam and The Hague. Curious fact: Whereas the tree provides a good amount of shade, it is actually shade-intolerant itself!

Large leaves that provide shade and huge tulip – shaped flowers. The tulip tree is amazing!

 

Where do you go to enjoy the shade and flowers of the tulip tree?

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