The tulip tree, also known around the regions where it grows as the yellow poplar or tulip poplar, is one of the Eastern forests' largest tree species. Despite the name yellow poplar, the tree is a member of the same family as magnolias.
Some specimens of the tulip tree reach up to 150 feet in height but the species averages around 100 feet tall. The trunk can have a width of 6 feet and typically grows straight.
The tree takes its name from its flowers, which closely resemble those of the tulip and from its leaves, which possess four lobes and look like the outline of a tulip.
Young tulip trees have smooth grayish bark with white furrows in it. As the tree gets older, the bark thickens considerably and narrow ridges develop in it.
The tree is a hearty species with great resistance to insects and diseases. The yellow-poplar weevil is one bug that can affect it and the fusarium and nectria canker diseases sometimes afflict it. It will lose branches to ice storms and high winds when it grows in the open.
The tulip tree grows rapidly, turns yellow in the autumn months before losing its leaves and the young trees have a pyramid shape to their crown. These features make it an excellent shade or ornamental tree where there is room for it to grow.
- A Guide to Field Identification Trees of North America;C. Frank Brockman;1996
- Tulip Tree:National Center for Conservation Science and Policy
tulip tree, yellow poplar, four lobed leaves
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.