The incredibly variable weather this spring has definitely been challenging for many woody plants. The extremely early warm weather that forced premature growth in many plants was tailed by late hard frosts. This resulted in freeze damage in some plants. Non- native plants were most severely impacted by these conditions. I was ecstatic to see the extremely invasive, Japanese knotweed Polygonum cuspidatum quite heavily zapped by the late May frost. It has since recovered.
Two wonderful, native, woody plants, unfazed by our capricious climate, are currently flowering prolifically:
The Tulip Tree Liriodendron tulipifera is a member of the Magnolia Family Magnoliaceae and one of our tallest (to 150 feet) and most beautiful native hardwood trees. The tulip trees are in full flower, which you might miss unless you look up into the tree to find them. Their stunning orange- yellow flowers, set off by glossy, star-shaped leaves are too often overlooked, as they are usually way above our heads.
The wood is highly valued for use in furniture and framing construction. The tree is a significant source of food for wildlife, as food and habitat for bees and a stately shade tree for large areas. It ranges throughout the Eastern United States from southern New England, west to southern Ontario and Michigan, and south to north-central Florida and Louisiana.
Fringe tree Chionanthus virginicus a member of the olive family Oleaceae is a small tree (to 25 feet) with an upright rounded form. It produces showy, fragrant, pure white flowers, which are composed of strap-shaped petals. The flowers hang from a 4 to 8 inch stalk. Some folks think they appear beardlike hence the common name Old Man’s Beard. The genus name Chionanthus, means snow and flower. Beard, snow or fringe-like these flashy flowers put on a spectacular show for at least’s two weeks in the spring, flowering just after the native dogwood fade.
The native range is southern New England south to Florida and west to Texas.