Tulips in the Trees

Thu., Jun. 3, 2021

By Bernadette Gallagher , Gardener

Bernadette Gallagher, Gardener

It’s been an interesting spring, with the late snows and swings between 50-90 degree days.  The garden has of course still been beautiful, but some of the plants have been affected.  For example, the tulips didn’t last quite as long this year.  So if you missed them, check-out another kind of “tulip,” the flower of the tuliptree, Liriodendron tulipifera. This is one of my favorite tree flowers, and because they bloom so high in the canopy it is a special treat if you get to see some up close. The flowers are green with a bright splash of orange, and the colors mix like tie-dye.  I absolutely love the effect.

This close-up of a tuliptree flower shows the stocky anthers and primitive stigma. Notice the tiny native bees paying a visit.
Tuliptree flowers are an important nectar source to honeybees and wild pollinators. If you look closely at this photo, you can spot one of last year’s “candles,” or fruiting piths.
Look for tuliptree blooms from May to early June. And keep an eye on the ground for the fallen petals. Our Boardwalk and Woodland Walk are sprinkled with the petals right now from a couple of these large tuliptrees.
We have four of these large specimens around the gardens: one near the top of the Boardwalk, another in the middle of our Woodland Walk, one in the Children’s Garden, and one on White Oak Walk.
Along with the flowers, look for the deeply furrowed bark, and the tall, usually very straight trunks.
Its distinctive leaf is the only Ohio example without a pointed tip at the end of the mid-vein.
The leaf bud was once described to me as a duck bill, which I will never forget.

Any time is a great time to see and identify these impressive trees in the wild or at the Garden. But now is the only time to see beautiful tuliptree blooms, so make a visit and see for yourself!

Bernadette Gallagher

Bernadette Gallagher


Gardener Bernadette Gallagher is a newer member of our team, but her training and versatility mean that she’s already been able to express her talents in all our gardens and biomes. Before landing with us Bernadette has been an arborist with Forest City Tree, a USDA tree-climber for the Asian longhorn beetle project, a VISTA community garden project manager, and a Nature Conservancy preserve steward. She is an ISA certified arborist and carries a wildlife biology degree from OU. Bernadette’s favorite CBG assignment so-far? Climbing the dawn redwood in the Japanese Garden—with her saw in tow!


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