Quarryhill Botanical Garden

Advancing the Conservation, Study, and Cultivation of the Flora of Asia

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Featured Plants

Liriodendron chinense
This deciduous tree has evolved highly unusual leaves, each with a 2-lobed, truncate apex and 2 broad side lobes.  Flowers, in May, are cupular (cup-like) with 9 green tepals, the outer 3 sepal-like, curved and outwardly pendulous, the inner 6 petal-like, erect and with yellow striations.  Fruits are 6mm, samaroid (winged) nutlets, appearing in September & October.

Recent taxonomic changes based on DNA analysis now place this species in the only other genus besides Magnolia to occupy the Magnoliaceae family.  L. chinense and the Eastern North American species L. tulipifera represent an evolutionary phenomenon known as species disjunction.  In such cases, similar selection pressures, acting over eons of time, produce two very similar species, often derived from a common ancestor, that have physically drifted apart due to geological/continental separation.  This species is rare and endangered, occurring in small populations or as scattered individuals.  It requires regular water and full sun, and prefers rich, deep soil.