Friday, April 2, 2010


I go by two names, the Liriodenron tulipifera goes by five- tulip tree, American tulip tree, tuliptree, tulip poplar or yellow poplar – and it is not even on the run from the law. No matter what you call it the tulip tree, it is a pretty fantastic tree to plant in the District. Three states – Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee - love it so much they have even made it their official state tree.

Native to the eastern states, the tulip tree is a fast growing deciduous tree that produces pale green/yellow flowers starting at the top of April in the south and in mid April in DC. As you would imagine, the flowers bare a striking resemblance to actual tulip and stand upright. Unfortunately most of the flowers are borne in the higher reaches of tree and cannot be readily seen. The bark is gray with stripes of light gray in the furrows, its leaves extend about 6 inches long and wide, alternate and are heart-shaped. In the Autumn, the leaves become quite showy turning golden yellow to clear yellow. The tulip poplar easily reaches 70’ to 90’ in height and takes on an irregular shape as it matures. You can easily describe their trunks as massive.
Plant the tulip tree in full sun, deep, moist, fertile soil and with ample space to grow. The tulip tree is an ideal shade and landscaping tree.
Fun facts:
  • The tulip tree, while not the most prevalent tree species in DC is one of the largest. As such the tulip tree provides the most ecosystem benefits of any tree species for the City since these services are tied directly to the tree's biomass i.e. total size, leaf area index, etc.

  • When harvested from the forest, its soft wood is used for interior finishes in houses, siding, carriage panels and even coffin boxes.
  • It is a major honey plant in the eastern US, producing a dark and strong honey preferred by bakers.
Be sure to locate all Casey Trees-planted tulip trees using the Casey Trees Map and add those that you have planted or are on your property but not yet on the map.

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