Characteristics of Tulip Trees (Liriodendron tulipifera) in the Wild

Liriodendron tulipifera
The Tulip Tree can grow to more than 55-60 meters in the forests of the Appalachian Mountains. The tree is often branchless and reaches a height of 25-30 meters, and that makes it a very valuable timber-producing tree.

This tree is also often referred to by many names such as Tulip tree, American tulip tree, Tuliptree, Tulipwood, Tulip poplar, Whitewood, Fiddletree, Oonseentiadan, Canoewood, and Yellow poplar.

The tulipifera liriodendron has been introduced to many parts of the temperate world such as Sykkylven in the north, Norway, and the Musial Arboretum, Finland. Several nurseries in Finland offer this species although they are not completely vigorous there and tend to survive in shrub form.

The tulip tree is also one of the famous ornamental trees that are planted to add color to the landscape in autumn.

In UK, the Liriodendron tulipifera cultivar ‘Aureomarginatum’ has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.


Characteristics of Tulip Tree Leaf

Liriodendron tulipifera Leaf

The leaves are simple, pinnate, about 12-15 cm long, and wide. The leaves have four lobes, and are heart-shaped or cut or slightly wedge-shaped throughout, and the apex is cut at a shallow angle, making the tops of the leaves appear square, midribs, and prominent primary veins.

Young leaves are light green when mature are bright green, smooth and shiny on top, pale green on the bottom, with downy veins.


Characteristics of Tulip Tree Flower

Liriodendron tulipifera Flower
Source: Jekel

The flowers appear in April in the Southern United States, and June in the North.

The flowers are cup-shaped, pale green or yellow (rarely white), with orange stripes around the edges, and produce large amounts of nectar.


Characteristics of Tulip Tree Fruit

Liriodendron tulipifera Fruit
Source: Arts

The fruit appears from September to October, is conical, and light brown.


Characteristics of Tulip Tree

Liriodendron tulipifera Tree

The tulip tree is one of the larger trees native to the United States. It reaches 60 meters in height and it has the characteristics of fast growth. The bark is brown, wrinkled, aromatic, and bitter. The branches are smooth and shiny, initially reddish, then turning dark gray, and finally brown. The wood is a light yellow to brown, and sapwood is white or cream, light, soft, brittle, and straight-grained.

The trunks of large trees are usually 1-2 meters in diameter, although they can grow much larger. The maximum height is 80 meters, but it is rarely found. Tulip trees prefer deep, nutrient-rich, slightly moist soil. The tulip tree is intolerant of shade and waterlogged soil.


Tulip trees can grow easily from seeds. It should be planted in soft, smooth soil and a cool shaded place. If planted in the fall, they will appear the following spring, but if planted in the spring, they will appear the following spring.

John Loudon said that the seeds from the tallest branches of old trees were likely to germinate. It is easy to propagate from cuttings and easy to transplant.


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