Liriodendron tulipifera

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 Liriodendron tulipifera subsp. var.  Tulip tree, American tulip tree, tuliptree, tulip poplar, yellow poplar
Liriodendron tulipifera (arbre) - Laeken.JPG
Habit: tree
Height: to
Width: to
Height: 60 ft to 90 ft
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Lifespan: perennial
Bloom: late spring
Exposure: sun
Water: moist
Features: deciduous, flowers, fall color
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Minimum Temp: °Fwarning.png"°F" is not a number.
USDA Zones: 4 to 9.5
Sunset Zones:
Flower features:
Magnoliaceae > Liriodendron tulipifera var. , L.

Liriodendron tulipifera, commonly known as the tulip tree, American tulip tree, tuliptree, tulip poplar or yellow poplar, is the Western Hemisphere representative of the two-species genus Liriodendron, and the tallest eastern hardwood. It is native to eastern North America from Southern Ontario and Illinois eastward across southern New England and south to central Florida and Louisiana. It can grow to more than 50 m (165 feet) in virgin cove forests of the Appalachian Mountains, often with no limbs until it reaches 25–30 m (80–100 feet) in height, making it a very valuable timber tree. It is fast-growing, without the common problems of weak wood strength and short lifespan often seen in fast-growing species. April marks the start of the flowering period in the southern USA (except as noted below); trees at the northern limit of cultivation begin to flower in June. The flowers are pale green or yellow (rarely white), with an orange band on the tepals; they yield large quantities of nectar. The tulip tree is the state tree of Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

The tulip tree is one of the largest of the native trees of the eastern United States, known to reach the height of 190 ft m 0, with a trunk 10 ft m 0 in diameter; its ordinary height is 70 ft m 0 to 100 ft m 0. It prefers deep, rich, and rather moist soil; it is common, though not abundant, nor is it solitary. Its roots are fleshy. Growth is fairly rapid, and the typical form of its head is conical.[1]

The bark is brown, and furrowed. The branchlets are smooth, and lustrous, initially reddish, maturing to dark gray, and finally brown. Aromatic and bitter. The wood is light yellow to brown, and the sapwood creamy white; light, soft, brittle, close, straight-grained. Sp. gr., 0.4230; weight of cu. ft., 26.36 lbs.

  • Winter buds: Dark red, covered with a bloom, obtuse; scales becoming conspicuous stipules for the unfolding leaf, and persistent until the leaf is fully grown. Flower-bud enclosed in a two-valved, caducous bract.

The alternate leaves are simple, pinnately veined, measuring five to six inches long and wide. They have four lobes, and are heart-shaped or truncate or slightly wedge-shaped at base, entire, and the apex cut across at a shallow angle, making the upper part of the leaf look square; midrib and primary veins prominent. They come out of the bud recurved by the bending down of the petiole near the middle bringing the apex of the folded leaf to the base of the bud, light green, when full grown are bright green, smooth and shining above, paler green beneath, with downy veins. In autumn they turn a clear, bright yellow. Petiole long, slender, angled.

Liriodendron tulipifera 'Mediopictum' leaves (autumn).
  • Flowers: May. Perfect, solitary, terminal, greenish yellow, borne on stout peduncles, an inch and a half to two inches long, cup-shaped, erect, conspicuous. The bud is enclosed in a sheath of two triangular bracts which fall as the blossom opens.
  • Calyx: Sepals three, imbricate in bud, reflexed or spreading, somewhat veined, early deciduous.
  • Corolla: Cup-shaped, petals six, two inches long, in two rows, imbricate, hypogynous, greenish yellow, marked toward the base with yellow. Somewhat fleshy in texture.
  • Stamens: Indefinite, imbricate in many ranks on the base of the receptacle; filaments thread-like, short; anthers extrorse, long, two-celled, adnate; cells opening longitudinally.
  • Pistils: Indefinite, imbricate on the long slender receptacle. Ovary one-celled; style acuminate, flattened; stigma short, one-sided, recurved; ovules two.
  • Fruit: Narrow light brown cone, formed by many samara-like carpels which fall, leaving the axis persistent all winter. September, October.[1]
Liriodendron tulipifera flower

A description from Our native trees and how to identify them by Harriet Louise Keeler[1]:


Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Liriodendron tulipifera, Linn. Tall tree, to 150, rarely to 190 ft., with a trunk to 10 ft. diam., often destitute of branches for a considerable height, glabrous: lvs. about as broad as long, with 2 lobes at the truncate and notched apex and 2-4 lobes at the base, bluish green above, pale or glaucous beneath, 5-6 in. long: fls. greenish yellow, marked orange within at the base, 1 ½-2 in. long; petals ovate or oval; fertile carpels acute. May, June. Mass, to Wis., south to Fla. and Miss.Var. pyramidale, Lav. (var. fastigiatum, Hort.). With upright branches, forming a narrow pyramid. Var. integrifolium, Kirchn. Lvs. rounded at the base without lobes. Var. obtusilobum, Pursh. Lvs. with only 1 rounded lobe on each side of the base. Var. contortum, Goeschke. Lvs. with 2 lobes on each side, twisted so that the upper lobes often form a right angle to the lower ones. There are also several vars. with variegated lvs., of which var. aureomarginatum, Hort. (var. panache, Hort.), with lvs. edged yellow, is one of the best. F.S. 19:2025; 20:2081.—In the Middle West, liriodendron is universally known as whitewood. To lumbermen in the East it is known as poplar and tulip poplar.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.



The Liriodendron tulipifera tree grows readily from seeds, which should be sown in a fine soft mould, and in a cool and shady situation. If sown in autumn they come up the succeeding spring, but if sown in spring they often remain a year in the ground. Loudon says that seeds from the highest branches of old trees are most likely to germinate. It is readily propagated from cuttings and easily transplanted.[1]

Pests and diseases


  • 'Ardis' - shorter, with smaller leaves than wild form. Leaves shallow-lobed with waist near top.
  • 'Arnold' - narrow, columnar crown; may flower at early age.
  • 'Aureomarginatum' - variegated form with pale-edged leaves; sold as 'Flashlight' or 'Majestic Beauty'.
  • 'Fastigatum' - similar form to 'Arnold'.
  • 'Florida Strain' - blunt-lobed leaves, fast grower, flowers at early age.
  • 'Integrifolium' - leaves without lower lobes.
  • 'Leucanthum' - flowers white or nearly white.
  • 'Little Volunteer' - almost as diminutive as 'Ardis.' Leaves more deeply lobed than 'Ardis' with waist in middle.
  • 'Mediopictum' - variegated form with yellow spot near center of leaf.
  • 'Roothaan' - blunt-lobed leaves.


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