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Wednesday - September 02, 2009

From: North Salem, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Problems with tuliptree in North Salem IN
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have a tulip tree and it looks like it is dying. The limbs are starting to turn bright blue. Do I have an insect problem or is it from a lightning strike?


From this USDA Plant Profile for Liriodendron tulipifera (tuliptree), it appears that it is native to Rush County Indiana, and should grow well there. We have to admit, a tree with bright blue branches is a new one to us. Did you have lightning strikes in your area at some point? From the the Tree Care Industry Association, here is a description of what kind of damage a lightning strike can cause to a tree. From Google, here are some pictures of damage done to trees by lightning. From Vanderbilt University, we found a website on this tree and details of its bark, leaves and twigs. There was one picture of a budding twig which had a blue cast, but how much can your tell from an online photograph?

From our Conditions Comments on this tree:

"Tulip tree is insect and disease free. It is intolerant of compacted soil and should not be placed in confined beds or planters near pavement. It grows very rapidly in deep, rich well-drained soils with uniform rainfall. Dry summer weather causes physiological problems. Tulip tree drops its foliage in response to drought and is somewhat weak-wooded."

These Conditions Comments probably give us our best clue to what is wrong with the tree. If it has been planted too close to pavement or in a confined area, it is not going to prosper.  There are, apparently, some insects which can cause damage to this tree, but since we are not entomologists, we recommend you contact the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service for Rush County.

Liriodendron tulipifera

Liriodendron tulipifera

Liriodendron tulipifera

Liriodendron tulipifera





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