Friday, April 20, 2012

What's that tree with the purple blossons?

Friends often ask me really interesting questions about birds, from my former life as a hard-core birder, and now about trees given my current series on tree seeds. My friend Susan asked the question about the tree in bloom with the beautiful purple blossoms. She also brought me a twig of seed pods from last year. Yummy new inspiration for a quilt. The tree goes by a variety of common names, including Empress Tree and Princess Tree.

This tree is an alien and imported for its lovely blossoms that are unlike any other tree in the US. It escaped from gardens and is now found scattered around the southeast in waste places. It is a relative of our Catalpa tree, but has a very different seed pod. I like the little rotund shape of the pod that splits into two sections. When the pod drops off it leaves a star shaped calyx that is quite intriguing. 

I often change the color of the dark brown seed pods for greater interest. What colors might be interesting for the pods?