Ancient tree blooms in Duncan
Dog walkers, soccer players and others enjoying McAdam Park in downtown Duncan often walk under a tall tree behind the public toilets. This tree has an interesting history and it is well worth a few moments to stop and look at the beautiful flowers and interesting leaves.
The tree is a tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera, and can grow as tall as 150 feet. The reason it is called a tulip tree is that the leaves are the shape of a tulip, quite unlike most of the tree leaves that we commonly experience.
Much more interesting are the beautiful, large green-yellow flowers that are streaked with orange. They are in flower from the end of June to early July. Most tulip trees have the flowers clustered near the top where they are difficult to see. This year, the one in McAdam Park has flowers which are at head height and can be seen and photographed easily.
In the wild, tulip trees occur in the eastern United States and in eastern China. For many years they were thought to be closely related to magnolias, however, recent fossil evidence shows that they evolved earlier than the magnolias, at the time of the dinosaurs about 60 million years ago.
These interesting trees occur in a number of gardens in the Valley and deserve a visit. The one in McAdam Park is probably most easily accessible.
Ian E. Efford