Facts About Tulip Trees


The tulip tree, known also as yellow poplar, whitewood or tulip poplar, is a species of hardwood tree in eastern North America. It serves as a shade tree, a source of wood and a source of nectar for honey.


The tulip tree grows from the southern portions of the New England states westward through Ontario and into Michigan. Its range extends as far south as Louisiana and northern Florida. It grows in abundance in the Ohio Valley.


The typical tulip tree reaches 80 to 150 feet, making it among the tallest of the eastern hardwood species. The trunk can be as wide as 6 feet, and a tree can live for more than 300 years.


The tree's flowers resemble the shape of tulips with six yellow-green petals and a splash of orange at the base. The flowers are 2 inches in diameter and appear after the four-lobed leaves, which also look like the outline of a tulip, develop on the branches.


Four types of insects can damage the tulip tree: tuliptree scale, the yellow-poplar weevil, the rootcollar borer and the Columbina timber beetle.


Yellow poplar wood is a component in veneer and furniture parts, while wildlife such as bobwhite quail and squirrels eat the tree's seeds. A tulip tree has the ability to produce large amounts of nectar, and landowners value it as a source of shade and beauty.


  • USDA Forest Service
  • A Guide to Field Identification-Trees of North America; C. Frank Brockman;1986
Keywords: tulip tree, yellow poplar, rootcollar borer

About this Author

John Lindell has written articles for "The Greyhound Review" and various other online publications. A Connecticut native, his work specializes in sports, fishing and nature. Lindell worked in greyhound racing for 25 years.