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          Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip tree)
          Makin, Julie

          Liriodendron tulipifera

          Liriodendron tulipifera L.

          Tulip Tree, Tulip Poplar, Yellow Poplar

          Magnoliaceae (Magnolia Family)


          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.


          From the Image Gallery

          40 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

          Plant Characteristics

          Duration: Perennial
          Habit: Tree
          Leaf Complexity: Simple
          Leaf: Green
          Autumn Foliage: yes
          Fruit: Green
          Size Class: More than 100 ft.

          Bloom Information

          Bloom Color: Yellow , Green , Brown
          Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun


          USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MA , MD , MI , MO , MS , NC , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , VT , WV
          Canada: ON
          Native Distribution: W. VT to s. MI & s.e IL, s. to n. FL & LA
          Native Habitat: Low, rich woods; stream banks

          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.


          Use Wildlife: 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: yes
          Attracts: Birds , Butterflies , Hummingbirds
          Larval Host: Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

          Value to Beneficial Insects

          Special Value to Honey Bees

          This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

          Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

          Tuliptree silkmoth
          (Callosamia angulifera)

          Larval Host
          Learn more at BAMONA
          Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
          (Papilio glaucus)

          Larval Host
          Learn more at BAMONA


          Description: 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

          Find Seed or Plants

          View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

          National Wetland Indicator Status

          Status: FACU FACU FACU FACU FACU
          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.

          From the National Organizations Directory

          According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

          Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
          Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
          Georgia Native Plant Society - Atlanta, GA
          Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
          Wellspring Organic Farm and Education Center - West Bend, WI


          Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
          Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
          Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski

          Search More Titles in Bibliography

          From the Archive

          Wildflower Newsletter 1996 VOL. 13, NO.1 - Conservation in Garden Maintenance, To Prune or Not to Prune, Education Director...

          Additional resources

          USDA: Find Liriodendron tulipifera in USDA Plants
          FNA: Find Liriodendron tulipifera in the Flora of North America (if available)
          Google: Search Google for Liriodendron tulipifera


          Record Modified: 2013-09-06
          Research By: TWC Staff

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