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The Private Eye and ALAHASP at the Birmingham Botanical GardensThe Private Eye
at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Seed Pods

What It Is Like to Be Popular

— by the Tulip "Popular" Tree

            Can you imagine people of all ages staring at you because you are so popular?  Well, that’s my lot in life.  In fact, I am so popular that botanists included my popularity in my name.  Smart, huh?
            Let me tell you about myself and you’ll see why all this works.  What’s that you say?  How do I get seeds?  Okay, I’ll start at the beginning.  Feel free to stop me any time to ask questions.
            My seed pod looks like a small pickle dipped in chocolate sauce.  Weird, huh?  But it works.  My seeds are usually dispersed by the wind they are so light.  How fast can I grow?  Well, I can germinate rather quickly if I land in a sun-filtered opening, and, no, artificial light is simply out of the question.
            That’s another reason I’m so popular; I germinate so quickly.  After a while I put out these simply gorgeous leaves (would you expect anything else?) shaped like the petals of a tulip.  Is that how I got my first name?  You betcha!  But remember we’re still working on why I’m so popular.
            When I have matured I stretch my branches way up into the air.  Do I form a canopy?  Yes, just like a canopy bed.  Perfect for sunning oneself.
            Now here’s the best part.  Do I have blooms?  Yes, and I’m getting to that.  What do they look like?  Are they pretty?  Hold your horses!  I said this was the best part.  Imagine yourself in a beauty pageant with the floodlights hitting you just right.  Your petals explode with pale yellow at the bottom gradually spilling into a bright orange.  The bodice of your petal fades to a pale, spring-like green.  No wonder I’m so popular.
            Isn’t my last name popular?  Oh, heavens no.  I’m popular, you see.  Don’t I really belong to the magnolia family?  Well, I’ll have to check into my ancestral tree you see.  What!?  I really do belong to the magnolia family?  Well, how stately!  And no matter what you say about being called a popular, I’m popular!

  Joan Moriarty

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