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story.lead_photo.caption The tulip tree near the front of the U.S. Federal Building in downtown Texarkana is an early bloomer and a harbinger of the spring to come. Photo by Les Minor / Texarkana Gazette.

Even on a gray day like Wednesday (and supposedly part of today), the tulip tree near the front of the Federal Courthouse on State Line Avenue provides an early hint of spring. It is always one of the first flowering trees to bloom in Texarkana — or maybe, because of its prominence and placement, one of the first to be noticed.

It is a type of tree that goes by many names. Its scientific title is Liriodendron. It is also called a Jane Magnolia or an Ann Magnolia because, as you might suspect, it is in the magnolia family of trees. The blooms of the magnolia tree and tulip tree have much in common, including texture.

A more descriptive moniker? How about The Pink Tree. But that would be too easy and obvious.

Its bark reminds some people of poplar trees. Thus it is sometimes called the tulip poplar, though the two are only distantly related.

The blooms of the tulip tree are big and beautiful, similar to those on a magnolia tree.
Photo by Les Minor/Texarkana Gazette.

And while it's pink and white flowers add cheer to the parks around the courthouse even on the drabbest of days, let some sunlight break through the cover and the tree practically gushes when the wind rustles the trembling glitz on its branches.

The tulip tree (also written tuliptree), is native to our Eastern Seaboard and also China and Vietnam. One can grow to be almost 200 feet tall, but most are less than half that size. The one here, lesser still.

Yet even if short on stature, it still has the wherewithal to call attention to itself with little effort.

Sitting in the shadow of one of our city's more recognizable landmarks, and ever-present Photo Island, Texarkana's tulip tree, on a sunny day in full bloom, has no trouble holding its own.

Enjoy it while it lasts.

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