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Tulip Tree - Liriodendron tulipifera

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Tulip tree leaves Photo © Wikimedia Pjacobi

Overview:

Tulip tree is named for the flowers and leaves that resemble tulips. It grows rapidly and is useful as a large shade tree.

Latin Name:

The scientific name of this tree is Liriodendron tulipifera. It is in the Magnoliaceae family which includes magnolia trees.

Common Names:

You may see this species called tulip tree, tulip poplar, yellow poplar, canoewood, saddle leaf tree, white wood and white poplar

Preferred USDA Hardiness Zones:

The best zones for Liriodendron tulipifera are Zones 4-9.

Size & Shape:

Tulip tree grows 80-100' tall and 40' wide. The shape is oval or pyramid when it is young, with it becoming irregular as it matures.

Exposure:

Grow in full to part sun.

Foliage/ Flowers/Fruit:

Tulip tree has very unique leaves that resemble a tulip shape. They are bright green and measure 4-8" long and wide. They turn golden yellow in the fall.

The flowers are 2-3" long and also shaped like a tulip. The petals are yellow-green, with the center being an orange color. Blooming time is May-June. The tree may take 15 years or more before flowers appear.

The fruits are a conical cluster of samaras.

Additional Facts:

Tulip trees, which is also commonly called yellow or white poplar, is not a poplar at all. It is part of the Magnolia family.

Tulip tree is the state tree of Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Design Tips:

The tulip tree grows fast, so it is useful as a shade tree. Since it grows so fast and tall, make sure you choose a location that will hold such a large tree.

Be careful planting these near cars (or anywhere else that you would not like sticky honeydew to land on) as tulip trees are prone to aphids.

Also plan to rake up flower litter.

Growing Tips:

Liriodendron tulipifera prefers acidic, moist, well drained soil. Salt intolerant. As the tree matures and establishes its root system, it can become somewhat drought tolerant, though some of the interior leaves may drop.

The tulip tree should be planted in the spring as it is very sensitive to being planted in the fall. If you are planting a tree that is ball and burlap, you should make sure it is watered regularly for the first 3 years or more to properly establish the roots.

Maintenance/Pruning:

Tulip tree should be shaped to have a central leader. Otherwise, little pruning is necessary to maintain tulip tree. Any pruning should be done in winter.

Pests & Diseases of Tulip Tree:

Liriodendron tulipifera can have problems with aphids and scale.

Diseases include cankers, leaf spot, powdery mildew, sooty mold, and verticillium wilt.

Leaves may yellow and drop in hot, dry weather.

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