Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Name that Tree: Terminal Velocity Edition

Yesterday, we were waiting in Windy Run Park's parking lot for our running buddy to arrive when I heard a noticeable thump. I couldn't resist getting out of the car to investigate, and what I found was this gorgeous flower head:

I looked up and around and didn't see any tree (or launching device) responsible for the projectile. Then, a couple of minutes later, there was another thump--this one on our dashboard:

We were under attack.

OK, something was doing this and it was time to figure out what. I got out of the car and poked around even further. Eventually I realized that the unusually tall tree above us did indeed have flower heads that matched those that had been launched on us just a few minutes earlier. So what kind of tree was it?

Let's just say that Google is too kind. Looking at the leaves (which in my defense were really high up), I guessed I was dealing with a Maple tree of some sort. So I dropped some search terms into Google Images. Before I knew it, I had found this page with these pictures:

Ahhh, yes, I was dealing with a Tulip Tree, or more specifically Liriodendron Tulipifera. The description as "a large, stately, deciduous tree of eastern North America that typically grows 60-90'" seemed right on to me.

There are a number of notable Tulip Trees, including: one George Washington planted at Mt. Vernon and Queen's Giant,considered the oldest living thing in New York City. Heck, a number of notable trees in Arlington are Tulip Trees. Another important historic fact: Daniel Boone's canoe was made from a Tulip Tree. These are truly stunning trees.

If you're going to be attacked from the sky (or dare I say, pooped on?) by a tree, hope it's a Tulip Tree.

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