Liriodendron chinense
Common Name: Chinese tulip tree
Type: Tree
Family: Magnoliaceae
Native Range: Central China, Indochina
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 50.00 to 70.00 feet
Spread: 30.00 to 40.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Olive green with yellow at base
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Shade Tree
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Tolerate: Deer

Culture

Best grown in moist, organically rich, well-drained loams in full sun. Tolerates part shade. May not be reliably winter hardy in the northern parts of USDA Zone 6.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Liriodendron chinense, commonly called Chinese tulip tree, is a fast-growing, columnar tree that typically grows to 50-70’ tall. It is named for its cup-shaped, tulip-like flowers (same family as magnolias) that bloom in late spring to early summer. This tree is very similar to Liriodendron tulipifera (native to eastern North America), except it is denser, slightly smaller, has smaller flowers without orange banding, has more deeply lobed leaves and is not as cold hardy. Cup-shaped flowers (to 1.5” long) are olive green with yellow at the base. Flowers begin blooming in May. Flowers 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 to the ground. Flowers are followed by dry, scaly, oblong, cone-shaped, brown fruit clusters, each bearing numerous winged seeds. Clusters disintegrate when ripe. Lobed bright green leaves turn golden yellow in fall.

Genus name comes from the Greek words leirion meaning a lily and dendron meaning a tree for the flowers.

Specific epithet means Chinese.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for aphids, leaf miners, scale, mealbugs and borers. Potential diseases include verticillium wilt, mold, powdery 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.

Garden Uses

Large shade or lawn tree for large landscapes. Generally not recommended as a street tree.