(yellow poplar, saddle wood, canoe wood, white wood)

tulipIn the debate over the Almshouse proposals, the Tulip tree often had a mention and I thought a few comments on it and its descendants might be appropriate.

The Lirodendrons belong to the Magnolia family and their cousins can be found in the fossil record. The modern genera are from North America; the first imports of seed were sent from Pennsylvania, by John Tradescant the Younger, in 1638. The specimen at Kew was planted in 1770.

The timber is fine-grained, with a slight greenish tinge, and easily worked and was much used in the furniture industry. The branches tend to be rather brittle and have an unpleasant habit of breaking away at unexpected moments!

The flowers arrive in June but are a little unobtrusive; Karl Linneaus referred to the reproductive gubbins, rather earthly as “twenty or more males in one marriage”. (What do taxonomists do in their spare time??)

I do not think that the Almshouse tree is particularly ancient, I feel that it was planted in the 1930s and carries its age very well.

Personal note—because of our family’s long association with the Almshouse, and in celebration of our Golden Wedding, Jane Watling made a gold broach, for June, by copying a leaf.

Norman Duckworth 

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