tulip poplar blooms are beautiful and provide
nectar for hummingbirds while the leaves feed the
caterpillars of the Eastern tiger swallowtail
a doubt the tulip poplar has to be considered among the
United States’ most beautiful trees and one that has
vastly more importance than you might have considered.
Botanically speaking it is Liriodendron tulipifera and
is not really a poplar but in the magnolia family.
is native over a huge range, 29 states, from East Texas
to Florida and as far north as Ontario, Canada. It is
considered a large tree that can reach more than 100
feet so the small urban landscape may not be ideal all
though there are smaller selections. It could, however,
certainly work in today’s neighborhood green spaces
always admired the large fiddle-shaped waxy leaves but
the flowers are simply stunning. I remember when my son
and I were on a golf course and he had hit an errant
shot to the left of the green. He called me over to what
I expected to be a plugged or lost ball. Instead he
asked, "Dad what in the world is this tree."
It was a tulip poplar in bloom and I was ecstatic that
he had noticed. If it will stop a teenager on a golf
course think what it will do in your landscape.
flowers are indeed reminiscent of a tulip in shape. They
are a bright and cheerful yellow with orange bands at
the bottom. Obviously it is the lower branches that
provide the best view and opportunities for photography,
otherwise you’ll be admiring through the binoculars.
The leaves are fairly reliable on yielding a golden
yellow in the fall.
is the state tree for Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee.
But it is important to other states too. The flowers
feed the ruby throated hummingbird which everyone loves.
The leaves serve as the larval host for the Eastern
tiger swallowtail, which is the state butterfly of
Delaware, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and
Virginia. But that is not all; the seeds feed at least
10 species of birds including the state birds of 13
trees have a tendency to grow straight and tall which
allowed Native American to carve entire canoes from the
trunks. Consequently in some areas there are still
referred to a canoe-wood. Today the wood is still used
in cabinetry, furniture and veneer. It also has a long
history of medicinal uses.
is a great time to plant a tulip poplar. They need room
and they need fertile moist soil. Though we are talking
about a native tree there are around a dozen varieties
in the marketplace including a couple that are known to
be a little-shorter. Look for Little Volunteer, Ardis
dwarf and Compactum. When you find yours, planting is
easy. Dig you hole at least twice as large as the root
ball planting at the same depth it is growing in the
container. The wide hole will allow quick root expansion
and acclimatization in your landscape. A lot of new
homes are being built in neighborhoods that have been
clear-cut of trees. This might be a tree for
consideration in helping you to start your forest again.