Tallest Tulips


Unless you can fly, you probably have never seen intact flowers of the tulip poplar close up. The flowers appear near the crown of these tall trees, and I only know the blooms exist because their yellow-green and orange petals (and occasionally a whole flower) begin to show up on my hiking paths this time of year. But last week’s windstorm blew entire branches off the tops, and I was lucky to find three entire blossoms in various stages of opening. The blossoms are a delight to hold (and photograph), because their color combination is so striking. Though the flowers resemble tulips in outward shape, they have a lot more in common with magnolia blossoms. As it turns out, the tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) is actually a member of the magnolia family and not a poplar at all. Tulip poplars are also the tallest native trees in eastern North America, which is why I was grateful for a little help from the wind.