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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.

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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.

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Saturday - March 30, 2013

From: Gilbertsville , PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Is yellow tulip poplar alive from Gilbertsville PA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How can I tell if my yellow tulip poplar is alive? thank you

ANSWER:

The best way to tell if any tree or woody plant is alive is the thumbnail test. We are assuming that your Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip tree) has put out no leaves nor blooms; it ordinarily blooms green, yellow and brown from April to June. If you follow our plant link to the webpage on your tree you will find these growing conditions:

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Rich, moist soils.
Conditions Comments: 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."

According to this USDA Plant Profile, your tree does grow natively in Montgomery County in southeast Pennsylvania.

Now, the thumbnail test. With your thumbnail and beginning at the highest branch you can reach, make a very thin scraping of the outer bark. If there is a very thin layer of green beneath that outer bark, that branch, at least, is alive. If there is no such green layer,  continue farther down the tree in search of the green. If you can't find any, even down close to the roots, that tree is dead.

Okay, you probably want to know what it died of (if it is, indeed, dead). Honestly, we don't know, but here is a website from the Missouri Botanical Garden on the tree with some infomation on problems and diseases.

 

From the Image Gallery


Tulip tree
Liriodendron tulipifera

Tulip tree
Liriodendron tulipifera

Tulip tree
Liriodendron tulipifera

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