Common Name: tulip tree
Native Range: Eastern North America
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 60.00 to 90.00 feet
Spread: 30.00 to 50.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Yellow with orange band at petal bases
Sun: Full sun
Suggested Use: Shade Tree, Flowering Tree
Leaf: Good Fall
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Clay Soil
Best grown in moist, organically rich, well-drained loams in full sun. Tolerates part shade.
Tulip tree or yellow poplar is a large, stately, deciduous tree of eastern North America that typically grows 60-90' (less frequently to 150’) tall with a pyramidal to broad conical habit. Although widely planted throughout the state of Missouri, it is indigenous to rich woods in only a few counties in the far southeastern corner of the state. Trunks of mature trees may reach 4-6’ in diameter, usually rising column-like with an absence of lower branching. It is named and noted for its cup-shaped, tulip-like flowers that bloom in spring. Flowers are yellow with an orange band at the base of each petal. Although the flowers are 2” in length, they can go unnoticed on large trees because the flowers appear after the leaves are fully developed. Sometimes the flowers are first noticed when the attractive petals begin to fall below the tree. Flowers are followed by dry, scaly, oblong, cone-shaped brown fruits, each bearing numerous winged seeds. Four-lobed bright green leaves (to 8” across) turn golden yellow in fall. Wood is used inter alia for furniture, plywood, boatbuilding, paper pulp and general lumber. Native Americans made dugout canoes from tuliptree trunks. This is the state tree of Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana. Genus name comes from Greek leirion (lily) and dendron (tree). Tulipifera means tulip bearing.
No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for aphids and scale. Potential diseases include verticillium wilt, mold, mildew and canker. Large aphid infestations result in honeydew secretions on the leaves that provide the growing medium for sooty mold. Trees are fast-growing and somewhat weak wooded, making them susceptible to limb breakage in high winds or from ice/snow. Shallow root system limits the types of plants that may be grown within the drip line.
Very large shade or lawn tree for large landscapes. Generally not recommended as a street tree.