En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - September 02, 2009

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

QUESTION:

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?

ANSWER:

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

 

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Disagreement on amending soil for planting from Austin
September 01, 2012 - In today's newspaper column, you answered a question about transplanting a redbud. You said to follow the instructions on the WFC web site, except you recommended adding compost to the backfill soil....
view the full question and answer

Evergreen tree for privacy screen in Granbury Texas
December 21, 2014 - We need to put an evergreen privacy screen between our barn and our neighbor's new 132' long, unattractive building, which runs along & is just 40' away from our fence line & where they have decid...
view the full question and answer

Stump sprouting of Oak trees in the wildfire area in Bastrop, TX.
May 13, 2012 - We live in Bastrop, Texas, in the wildfire area. We lost all of our trees. The oak trees have "suckers" growing from the base of the burned tree that has been cut down. They look like little bushe...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for Pflugerville, TX in blackland soil
March 21, 2008 - Mr. S-P, I'm perusing the plant sale list for a couple of tall shrubs to plant on the sunny southwest side of my house, in Blackland soil. It is generally dry there because of the sun, but can ge...
view the full question and answer

Need a tree to grow in the middle of a retention pond in Pennsylvania
June 03, 2010 - I have a shallow retention pond in my yard in South Eastern Pennsylvania. The pond is used for rainwater runoff and also for natural springs that are located below the surface. If I plant a tree in th...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center