Tulip Tree, a.k.a. Tulip Poplar

It is rare that we get to see the flowers of Liriodendron tulipifera while they are fresh. The tulip poplar is a tall, straight tree and the flowers are usually well out of our reach. However, Hurricane Isabel blew through in 2003 and dropped quite a few trees without killing them so now we get to see what is normally in the canopy rather than the understory.

The ant in the picture is after the nectar produced by the flower and exuded along the orange surfaces. It is a sweet treat and we can be seen taking a taste now and then when we are lucky enough to find a fresh flower.

You can see the nectar if you look closely at the orange part of the flower above. It tastes like honey. Of course, I recommend inspecting the flower before tasting the nectar -- unless, of course, you don't mind eating an ant or two. :)


Wayne said...

It's a very striking flower and as you say seldom seen unless you find it dropped to the ground. The architechture is very much like Magnolia, to which it is related.

Here in Athens, Liriodendron tulipifera, and what a melodic name that is!, is our main honey flow plant. There's always a race to see if the tulip poplars will get their flowers out before the last frost. The first year we kept honeybees we got a couple hundred jars out of two hives.

Anonymous said...

An apiary too, Wayne?

You're one of my heros, bro.