sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

May 24, 2012

the tulip tree
posted by soe 2:07 am

Just last night, Karen and I were talking about how confusing it is when two different things go by the same name. We started the conversation with the chigger, which refers both to a mite (which takes a bite out of you) and to a flea (which burrows in you), and moved on to daddy long legs, which can be an arachnid (what I grew up with), a spider, or a fly.

And today I found a third, although this one is admittedly closer than the previous two examples.

I grew up calling this a tulip tree:

Magnolia Tree

That would be a Magnolia Soulangiana. Living in the south, you come to know this is a magnolia, because it rivals the cherry for earliest flowering tree in the spring.

Come to find out, there’s another tree that’s also called the tulip tree. That would be this:

Tulip Tree

It’s also called the yellow poplar, but it’s not actually a poplar. Instead it’s a Liriodendron tulipifera.

Yellow Poplar

It’s in the Magnolia family, but not in the Magnolioideae genus (where all the magnolias are classified). Instead it’s in the Liriodendron genus.

These particular trees are growing in Rock Creek Park near Woodley Park.

Yellow Poplar Bud

Pretty cool, huh?

Category: dc life. There is/are 2 Comments.

Yes, very cool. I’ve never seen the yellow-flowered tree before, but “tulip tree” seems a fitting name for it.

BTW, after reading your post I looked up daddy longlegs in the dictionary and found that the term is sometimes used to refer to a crane fly. So I looked up crane fly and the description sounded like what I call a mosquito hawk. So I looked up mosquito hawk and apparently that term is more commonly used to refer to a nighthawk or a dragonfly. The confusion continues.

Comment by Karen 05.24.12 @ 10:21 am

@Karen: Whatever we call it, it was quite striking. And, yes, I knew that about mosquito hawks. Oddly, I have actually met people who thought they were mosquitoes. But, honestly, wouldn’t you remember being bitten by one of them???

Comment by soe 05.25.12 @ 12:49 am