Tulip poplar, also known as the tulip tree, American tulip tree, tulip wood, tulip tree, whitewood, fiddletree, and yellow-poplar, is the North American representative of the two-species genus Liriodendron (the other member is Liriodendron chinense), and the tallest eastern hardwood. It is native to eastern North America from Southern Ontario and possibly southern Quebec to Illinois eastward to southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and south to central Florida and Louisiana. It can grow to more than 50 m (160 ft) in virgin cove forests of the Appalachian Mountains, often with no limbs until it reaches 25–30 m (80–100 ft) in height, making it a very valuable timber tree. It is fast-growing, without the common problems of weak wood strength and short lifespan often seen in fast-growing species. April marks the start of the flowering period in the Southern United States (except as noted below); trees at the northern limit of cultivation begin to flower in June. The flowers are pale green or yellow (rarely white), with an orange band on the tepals; they yield large quantities of nectar. The tulip tree is the state tree of Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
Tulip Poplar Facts
- Scientific name: Liriodendron tulipifera
- Other names: tulip tree, yellow poplar
- Range: found across most of the eastern United States
- Height: up to 150 ft.
- Flowers: greenish yellow with orange band at bottom
- Fall colors: yellow
- Distinguishing features: flowers that resemble tulips; tall and straight trunk
If Trees Could Sing…
Click here to see Annie Sellick talk about one of her favorite trees. Video courtesy of The Nature Conservancy and Annie Sellick.