T is for Tulip Tree

Way high in the tallest trees in our neighborhood, the tulip trees, Liriodendron tulipifera, are blooming right now–and humans would never know!

“Ahem.” Hickory twitches his tail. “We only know it ourselves, Nutmeg, because that windstorm last Friday broke branches and blew down a bunch of the uppermost flowers.”

Well…yes, as I was saying, the tulip poplar or yellow poplar, are straight and rapidly growing trees that reach 70 to 100 feet tall. They flower way up there, where their canopy branches have full sunlight. The orange and yellow-green blossoms, which yes, we and our human readers most often see when they blow down, are a pretty orange and yellow the size and shape of a tulip flower.

As you can see by the size of the ants that are also seeking the nectar of the flower, they are indeed large, and do provide a nice pool of nectar for the bees, which is quite easy for them to get to!

This may not be the tree for many of you humans to plant in your suburban yards, but anyone with more land on the eastern side of North America will want to encourage them. Their blossoms provide a fair percentage of bee nectar in late April to May.


Purchase plants and seeds from a known source that does not use pesticides / insecticides, particularly neonicotinoids. They are not safe for honeybees and native bees. Watch this bee researcher’s Ted Talk to learn more about bees, why they are dying and how you can help:

Marla Spivak: Why Bees Are Disappearing

Y is for Yellow Poplar

The Yellow Poplar tree, Liriodendron tulipifera, also known as the Tulip Tree and the Tulip Poplar, is not yellow! It’s leaves are green like most other trees’.

Yellow Poplar leaves

But its flower is yellow and it looks like a tulip.

Tulip Tree flower, inside view

Tulip Tree Flower

The flowers produce seedpods in the fall that look like rows of candles upon the leaves and sprinkle apart to the ground, not at like the flying wings of the maple smarts. And we have no clue what eats them.

Tulip Tree Seedpods

Maybe that’s why there are so many Yellow Polars around here.

Yellow poplar trees grows straight and are the tallest hardwood tree in out eastern woodlands.

Tulip Trees in foreground, Oak in background

New leaves

We’re enjoying spring, but probably not as you’re imagining. Food is tight for us squirrels this time of year. Good food that is, stuff I’d want to eat. Then the leaf buds swelled. All kinds of them.

leaf colors

Isn’t it neat the different species are different colors? Light green here are Tulip Poplar and the red are oak…or maple. Hmm, not sure. We like the Tulip Poplar better.

gray squirrel in tree


Y is for Yellow on Motionless Monday

Hey folks, the Blogging A To Z Challenge is coming to a close this week—and so is April! Are you ready for that? So today is ‘Y’ day.


We have a yellow wildlife statue:

Yellow Butterfly statue

A yellow butterfly, we’ll call him for the sake of consistency.

And for a yellow plant, I’ve picked one we Virginia squirrels see every day: Yellow Poplar, one of many names for the native tree Liriodendron tulipifera.

Yellow Poplar leaves

Yes, the leaves turn yellow in the fall, but the flowers look like tulips, so it’s also called the Tulip Tree and Tulip Poplar. It’s one of the fastest growing hardwoods and the tallest in the eastern US.

Yellow Poplar Tree

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there, time to look up some more! Any ideas what these things are at the tips of this tree’s branches?

Mystery # 34

I’ll be back later for guesses and answers.


This is a Tulip Tree or Yellow Poplar, Liriodendron tulipifera, and believe it or not, those are parts of the seed pods that are still hanging on after all these months. Check out the ground beneath.

seeds of the Tulip Tree

Back on July 21, we showed the seedpods forming. By August they had dried and started falling.