The tulip poplar tree is native to the eastern United States, and it has several common names: tuliptree, yellow poplar and the American tulip. It is a large deciduous tree that adapts itself to most habitats/climates. The tulip poplar tree is easily identified by its yellow tulip-like spring flowers and its bright yellow fall foliage. The tree is susceptible to infestation by the tulip tree aphid and the tulip tree scale. Possible diseases are cankers, leaf spots, powdery mildew and verticillium wilt.
The tulip poplar tree has a moderate growth rate and can reach a height of from 60 to 80 feet, and a spread of from 30 to 50. The crown shape is oval, and the leaves are from 4 to 8 inches in length. The fragrant, yellow spring blossoms are 2 inches in diameter, and the fruit is from 1 to 3 inches long. Birds are attracted to the elongated fruit.
Tree Habitat Requirements
Due to its size, the tulip poplar is best suited to large lots and not along residential parkways. The site should receive full sun. The tulip poplar prefers moist, well-drained soil that has a pH from 4.5 to 7.5. It tolerates most soils (clay, sand, loam). During drought conditions, the tulip poplar will shed its interior leaves prematurely. This tree is hardy in zones 5 through 9A.
The tulip poplar will require some maintenance such as cleaning up fruit and leaf litter, pruning to maintain its size/shape in your landscape design and pruning away any dead/diseased/or damaged branches. It will also require watering during drought conditions.
Recognizing an Aphid Infestation
The tuliptree aphid sucks the sap on the underside of the foliage; they are green and multiply quickly. Signs of an aphid infestation include new growth leaf distortion, the presence of honeydew (aphid waste material), and possibly the formation of sooty mold growing on the honeydew. Honeydew also attracts ants, flies, bees and yellow jacket wasps. Honeydew is sticky and covers the leaves and branches of the tulip poplar as well as the surrounding area.
Aphid Infestation Control
There are several natural enemies of the tuliptree aphid (lady beetles, parasitic wasps, lacewing larvae, and flower fly larvae), and in most cases they are able to control an infestation. If you experience a severe case of tuliptree aphids, you can apply an insecticide or an insecticidal soap--the practicality of this depends upon the size of the tree. An aphid infestation will not kill the tree--it is more unsightly cosmetically than it is a serious pest problem.
Tulip Tree Scale
The best way to avoid an infestation of tulip scale is to maintain a stress free/healthy tree. These insects are oval and brown. They will first appear on the lower branches of the tree. Treat a tulip scale infestation by spraying the tree with horticultural oil in early spring before growth begins, the USDA Forest Service recommends.
It is important to have awareness of what diseases your tree is susceptible to. Problems for the tulip poplar include cankers that cause branch dieback, leaf spots and powdery mildew (both mainly cosmetic) and verticillium wilt, which can kill a tree--signs are wilting and dead leaves.