A member of the magnolia family, the Liriodendron Tulipifera, more commonly known as the Tulip Poplar or Yellow Polar, is one of the tallest hardwood trees native to eastern North America.
It gets its name from its flowers, which bloom in mid-summer and resemble those of the tulip plant. These have yellow petals with bright orange bases and centers and fragrant stems. Hummingbirds and bees love these blossoms for the abundant nectar they produce, and bakers highly value the dark honey it makes. Flowering usually doesn’t occur until the tree reaches at least 15 years, but as the tree ages, they become more abundant.
It is the state tree of Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee and was frequently used by pioneers in those areas to build their homes and Native Americans, who used its trunks to build large dugout canoes that fit up to twenty people in them.
A fast-growing deciduous tree is still prevalent in the timber industry, with wood similar to white pine. It is frequently used in kitchenware, for artistic carving, particularly for planks since the trunk usually grows straight up without branching for quite a distance.
The four-lobed leaves are large and glossy, bright green in the summer and turning golden yellow in the fall. Their habit of fluttering in the wind has caused the tree to be commonly referred to as a poplar, but in truth, it is no more related to that genus than it is to the tulip plant.
It can grow huge, up to 190 feet tall and 10 feet in diameter at the trunk, but the expected growth is closer to about 100 feet. It does best in moist but well-drained soils and responds well to fertilizer.
A good shade tree that enjoys partial sun, its growth is affected by placing it in the full sun. The canopy is lush in the summertime, conical in shape, and in a mature tree should occupy about half of its total height.
It is well suited to more significant properties and woodland gardens and is very tolerant of insects and diseases.
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