By Phran Novelli
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - The other day while walking the doggies, a flower dropped from the sky – well actually from what’s commonly called a Tulip Poplar (Latin name Liriodendron tulipifera), even though it’s part of the Magnolia family. You rarely see these unique orange and yellow tulip-shaped flowers up close because they bloom at the very top of these fast growing shade trees that reach over 100 feet high.
Thomas Jefferson like them so much, he sent Tulip Poplar seeds to friends in Paris helping to popularize these majestic trees across Europe. Recognizable for a very straight trunk, these hardwood trees have for centuries been crafted into canoes, log cabins, cabinetry and furniture.
Don’t plant a Tulip Poplar too close to your house, as they grow both tall and wide with branches that can be brittle. But at a property edge or woodland, they prove great shade, and invite bees to make honey from their flower nectar (which also attracts hummingbirds), while the leaves welcome beautiful tiger and spicebush swallowtail butterflies to lay their babies on our native Tulip Poplar.