the Tulip tree

Liriodendron tulipifera derives its name from the Greek word lieris, lilly and dendros, tree. It belongs to the Magnolia family, and comes from the South East of the USA, but it spreads all along the East coast all the way up to Canada. It was introduced in Europe in 1663 and particularly in France at the beginning of the 18thC, thanks to Roland Michel Barrin, Count of La Galissonnière.

La Galissonnière was the governor of Canada in 1747 and a botanist at heart, whenever his sailing missions would give him the chance to collect seeds and bring them back to his castle not far from Nantes, in France. He has sailed many a sea, from the Carribean where he fought pirates, to the Atlantic when he sailed to Senegal, and the Mediteranean, when he was ambassador for France in Constantinople. He is said to have been the one who has first imported the liquidambar from Turkey.

See how I get carried away ! I mean to write a post on a particular tree I spotted in Hervé’s garden and I come back to he topic of the tree I have in my garden !

So about the Tulip tree : the most famous one was planted at le Petit Trianon in Versailles for Queen Marie-Antoinette in 1771, but was sadly uprooted by the 1999 storm. The following year, the tree was bought by Mr Vialis, a cutler in Aveyron (in the South of France). He made knives from the wood, and each one was numbered from 1 to 1755. The stump of the tree can be seen in Mr Vialis’ s village – Sauveterre de Rouergue.

In Europe, Liriodendron tulipifera can grow up to 40m and live up to 300 years, with a 2m diameter trunk.

The one in Hervé’s garden is much smaller, and I bet you have never seen one shaped like that ! Hervé masters pruning very well and he chose to limit the growth of his tree given the size of his garden. He forced the branches into this amazing crown, as if a gigantic windpipe was blowing from underneath !


Nov 12, 2011

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