Tulip Poplar

Liriodendron tulipifera

Magnoliaceae - Magnolia Family

The Tulip Tree, which can be easily identified by its large flowers that resemble tulips, is native to all of Eastern North America.1 It prefers a temperate climate, sun or part shade, and a deep, fertile, well drained and slightly acidic soil. The tree can grow as tall as 100 feet in height, and can have a trunk diameter of two to five feet.
Between the months of April and June, the Tulip Tree produces tulip-shaped, light, greenish flowers. Although it is a prolific seed bearer, only a small percentage of seeds germinate. The cone-shaped fruit clusters are borne on the branches, and contain about 12,000 seeds per pound.2 In order to grow, the Tulip Tree needs a seedbed of mineral soil, adequate soil moisture, and sufficient direct sunlight—seedlings are intolerant of shade. Natural regeneration of tulip poplar is usually by stump sprouts and seed2. For best results planting these trees, plant during the fall.2
Because the wood of the tree is moderately light, soft, relatively weak, and easily worked, it is often used for furniture stock, veneer, and pulpwood. The Tulip Tree is a desirable tree to have in any yard because of its aesthetics, its ability to grow quickly, its resistance to insect and disease damage, and yellow autumnal color.3 However, this species is prone to wind damage and ice damage in exposed situations.

References and Useful Websites:
1 Natural Resources Conservation Service - U. S. Department of Agriculture
2 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - University of Texas

This page was prepared by Will Miller, BIO 102, Fall 2011

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