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Liriodendron tulipifera L.
Tulip tree, Tulip poplar, Yellow poplar
USDA Symbol: litu
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
One of the tallest and most beautiful eastern hardwoods, with a long, straight trunk, a narrow crown that spreads with age, and large showy flowers resembling tulips or lilies. A tall, straight, deciduous tree, up to150 ft. tall (sometimes taller), tuliptree has a medium to narrow crown and distinctive, star-shaped foliage. The leaves are waxy and smooth, and dependably turn bright gold in fall. Showy, yellow-orange, tulip-like flowers are often missed because they are up 50 ft. or higher in the tops of trees. Cone-shaped seedheads remain after leaves have fallen.
Introduced into Europe from Virginia by the earliest colonists and grown also on the Pacific Coast. Very tall trees with massive trunks existed in the primeval forests but were cut for the valuable soft wood. Pioneers hollowed out a single log to make a long, lightweight canoe. One of the chief commercial hardwoods, Yellow Poplar is used for furniture, as well as for crates, toys, musical instruments, and pulpwood.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Leaf Complexity: Simple Leaf:
Green Autumn Foliage:
Green Size Class:
More than 100 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun
, WV Canada: ON Native Distribution:
to s. MI
& s.e IL,
s. to n. FL
& LA Native Habitat:
Low, rich woods; stream banks
Growing ConditionsWater 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:
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.
This is a favorite nesting tree
for birds and the flowers attract hummingbirds. Use Medicinal:
A pioneer species.
First Nations used the inner bark
medicinally as worming medicine, antiarthritic, cough syrup and cholera remedy. (Athenic) Conspicuous Flowers:
Birds , Butterflies , Hummingbirds Larval Host:
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)
PropagationDescription: Sow seeds in fall or stratify. Germination percentages are generally quite low. Collect cuttings in summer.
Seed Collection: Collect cones from trees before they dry completely. Thoroughly air dry cone to separate samaras for storage. Drying may take 20 days. Store in sealed refrigerated containers.
Seed Treatment: Stratify 60-90 days at 36 degrees.
Commercially Avail: yes
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
Record Last Modified: 2013-09-06
Research By: TWC Staff