Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Liriodendron tulipifera-Tulip Tree
When I found a flowering branch on the Tulip Tree on the ground, I decided to use it for my next entry. This tree is so tall, and the lowest branches so high, that it is difficult to reach a flower. In addition, the flowers have subtle colors, mostly pale green with a pale orange band, so that most people never notice them. However, people do notice that their cars get sticky when they park under theses trees, which are often planted along the sidewalk in Berkeley. That is what entomologists call "honeydew." It is actually barely digested plant sap called honeydew. The aphids on the tree have sucking mouthparts called "stylets" which they use to pierce the leaves to draw sap out of the veins. The pressure inside the plant forces far more sap into them than they can actually use, and it comes out the backside just about the same as it goes in and drips down, causing cars, sidewalks, etc, to get sticky. It is an annoyance. But it can also be a fantastic food source. In the mideast, it is collected and used as a sweetener. Nobody know what mana from heaven was, but the best guess of those who study such things is that it was honeydew. The Tulip Tree is native to the east coast and is now blooming at the UC Botanical Garden.