Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tulip Poplar

web photo of a tulip poplar
Monday found us driving a maze of ever narrowing back roads which looped and swooped past crossroad chapels and small tidy houses.  Following directions taken over the phone and watching for the signposts at each turning, we  lurched along spiney ridges, plunged into shady "hollers" and finally crossed over a wicked concrete bridge with no guardrails. As we approached the bridge we were diverted from the sight of tree roots and debris from the flood of several weeks ago by the sight of a large "cow snake" slinking into the roadside weeds.
We were on our way to lunch at the home of a couple who moved into the area just weeks after our arrival.
We met them at church and talked with them at a potluck dinner.

We had a lovely and leisurely meal [the benefits of retirement!] which finished with home made coconut ice cream.
With the food and dishes cleared away we set out to walk over part of their acreage, which unlike our little farm, is heavily wooded. We noted familiar maple and oak trees, J. searched in vain for a white ash. The trees on the steep hillsides have not been thinned and tall slender trunks stretched toward the sky.
In the leaf litter underneath I observed drifts of  large"petals,"banded yellow and orange.
None of us had any notion what they might be, but of course my curiosity was stirred.

There were many single petals in the strew of last years' leaves in our friends' wooded acreage.
I pounced on this battered but whole flower.

A close up of the blossom.

When we visited the pioneer museum at Renfro Valley we noted the signs which specified that the reconstructed log buildings were made with yellow poplar and American chestnut.
When Mr. Rogers visited us here, he pointed out that the small garage he constructed on the property was framed with yellow poplar recycled from a home that was damaged in the Gradyville Flood of 1907.
In the dusty recesses of my ragbag mind, I pictured yellow poplar as a vague cross between the Lombardy poplars [which my Dad planted in a fit of horticultural experimentation] and the related aspens and cottonwoods of Wyoming.
It was a surprise to learn that yellow poplar and tulip poplar are the same tree--the state tree of Kentucky.  The botanical name is liriodendron tulipifera.

There is a story behind the choosing of the state tree. To read it, follow the link below.


  1. What a neat post! I love the tulip poplar tree. We used to have one in our front yard many years ago. And coconut ice cream sounds delicious! Wish I had some right now...

  2. Sounds like a lovely visit and an interesting journey. Eeesh to the snake though! That bridge would definitely NOT be allowed here, due to Health and Safety restrictions . . . The ice-cream sounds lovely. The Tulip Poplar (lovely name) is fascinating too.

    I LOVE your new header picture. BRILLIANT photo!

  3. I do love the upside-down-cat pic! Here in England I don't think we have anything like that tree, the blossoms look very exotic and rather like the day lillies we have in our gardens.

  4. Nice post, beautiful pix, we have tulip trees here, I wonder if they're actually tulip poplars?

  5. Oh...I love the upside down smile from a beautiful kitten on your new header pic!