Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Beautiful Tulip Tree

Although I don't have a purple tulip tree, or Magnolia x soulangeana, there are several nearby, so I never miss the fabulous spring show.  A deciduous tree, it bursts forth with large amethyst and lavender colored, tulip-shaped blossoms in early spring, before the tree begins to leaf out.   This purple beauty is also known as the saucer magnolia, or Japanese magnolia.

I love seeing the tulip tree in bloom.  A majestic symbol of spring's arrival, it would be accused of shouting that winter's grip is gone, except it is obviously too refined and graceful to ever be accused of shouting.  Wearing the color of royalty, it reigns as possibly the largest and the showiest specimen in early spring's procession of beauty to signal the coming of warmer weather.  The sight of seeing an entire tree flowering is breathtaking, especially after enduring months of unexciting evergreens.

The stately tulip tree is especially pretty paired with the lowly daffodil, which blooms at the same time.  The complimentary pairing of purple and yellow is a sight not soon forgotten.  Even by itself, it is a real show stopper in early spring, and puts a song in the heart of any gardener weary of winter.  Grown in zones 4 through 9, this tree will grow to 30 ft, so give it plenty of room.

And though they go by similar names, don't confuse the elegant, purple M. soulangeana with the yellow tulip tree, Liriodendrum tulipifera, or Tulip Poplar.


  1. I have a tulip magnolia that blooms late and smells like watermelon. What is blooming now is 'Leonard Messell' magnolia, my fav. You are fortunate to have neighbors with shrubs and trees you may enjoy.

  2. I have a white magnolia, but I wish I had a pink tulip tree instead. I love those pink blossoms! I really like your rainy day image and enjoyed reading the seven random facts about you. I think it is a hoot that your cat works out with you.
    P.S. I can't resist ice cream either.

  3. Lovely trees -- Magnolias in Michigan are hardy, but subject to frost, so we are lucky to see blooms for a couple of days, if at all. I grow the native tulip poplar instead. You may have noticed the winter interest the old flowers provide on my banner photo. I'll be back!

  4. You are right, the magnolias bring the brightness back into winter, even on a dreary day.

  5. Two of the neighbors have magnolia trees that keep their green glossy leaves all winter long. Both trees lost their tops in our heaviest snow a couple of weeks ago. Our holly tree lost its too. A devastating winter here. Nice to see spring has started in TX.

    You were right about the raccoons and the suet. Yesterday I noticed that the pole holding the suet feeder was bent. They have been the rascals eating the suet so fast. Their little paws must reach through the cage to get it. We have them living under our screened porch. They did it last winter too and one died under there! Yes, a horrible smell that we had to wait out since we couldn't get under there. Our porch sits about a step off the ground. I've taken the suet feeder down for now.

  6. Love those trees, but as you do, admire them from afar.

  7. Magnolias in bloom are amazing! A few years ago it was proclaimed as the UK's favourite flowering tree of all time.

  8. It is a spectacular tree, you are right. Ours are blooming too, spring is coming!

  9. I actually own one of these beautiful trees but I think I need to move it to another location that is more protected from wind and snow because just as soon as it is about to put out those beautiful blooms, the snow bites it and the blooms brown!

  10. Nell Jean - a late blooming tulip tree! That is the best of both worlds! I didn't realize there were tulip trees that bloomed at a different time.

    Threedogsinagarden - The white magnolias are magnificent, but the tulip tree is just so refreshing to see after a long winter. Thanks for your other comments, too. I appreciate you looking some other posts!

    Juliana - I'm glad you'll be back! The tulip poplar is not popular here. The purple tulip tree does wonderful here because we don't usually get too many late freezes, but that is a problem in the north. Thanks for commenting!

    GWGT - Oh, it is such a beautiful sight to see blooms after winter. We wouldn't appreciate it as much if it bloomed in summer, probably.

    Marcia - what a bad winter you must have had! To lose the top of trees is such a sad thing. I hope your neighbor's magnolias and your holly grow back nicely, though that's probably just a gamble. It is not easy to get rid of raccoons, and they are so smart. I really like watching them, but hate having them come to our house every night. Good luck with yours.

  11. Carolyn - Yes, as beautiful as they are, I've never found a space for them in my own garden.

    Mark and Gaz - what a great tidbit of information! I just love magnolia's large blooms - not shy at all - so unlike most trees' little blossoms.

    Kelli - They really do resemble tulips. And I love the purple color.

    Masha - Hooray for spring's arrival! Some days I've wondered if it's my imagination, then I see a flowering tree and realize it's really getting to be spring for sure! Yeah!

    Ramona - Thanks for commenting! I've heard that can be a problem in colder zones. Too bad, too, because they are so pretty on the tree. I guess bringing inside all the blooms you can just isn't the same thing!

  12. Mine are out here too, and I was wandering around town just yesterday taking pictures of them. Love these things. And they are such unremarkable trees the rest of the year too, its amazing.

  13. Jess - you are right! I never give these trees a second look, except when they are in bloom. They're so pretty, guess they don't have to have much more going for them. Thanks for commenting.


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