Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Frozen out

Tulip Trees bloom in May – you can see their petals being discarded to the ground below by squirrels eating parts of the sweet, green-orange flowers. These members of the magnolia family are our tallest trees, averaging 120 feet, often reaching 150 feet, and known as tall as 190 feet.

Tulip Trees were once circumboreal – found in North America, Europe and Asia. They now live only in China and eastern North America. The European Tulip Trees were wiped out, not by man but nature, in the last ice age. On our continent, as the ice moved south, the Tulip Tree seeded its way southward ahead of the shelf. In Europe, however, the Mediterranean to the south and mountains to the east trapped the species and none survived.

Because our trees could “escape” down the north-south coastal plains, ridges and valleys, our part of the world is home to many more species than Europe has.

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