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Liriodendron tulipifera Linnaeus

Common names: tulip tree, tulip-poplar, tuliptree, tulip-tree, whitewood, yellow poplar, yellow-poplar.
Synonyms: Liriodendron procera Salisbury, Tulipifera liriodendron P. Miller.
Family: Magnoliaceae.

Brief description:
Often called Poplar, Yellow Poplar, or Tulip Poplar, this is no poplar at all, but a relative of Magnolias. It is the only tree that has a leaf with a V-shaped or notched tip in our forests. The flowers, born all over the tree crown in spring, are remarkably like tulips, though the tree is also unrelated to that plant. After pollination, many winged fruits develop--and twirl like minature hellicopters to the ground. The spinning keeps the fruit in the air longer (it slows the fall of the fruit) so that they fly further from the parent tree. Tuliptrees are one of our largest eastern trees--in the few remaining old growth forests they can reach 10 feet in diameter and 200 feet tall. It is a fast growing species with light weight wood. It was used for many purposes by settlers owing to its commonness and today is used in paper manufacturing. Often hollow, the trunk was used for dugout canoes. Daniel Boone floated down the Ohio River on a 60 foot Tuliptree canoe. Tulptree leaves turn light yellow to a deep gold in the fall.

USDA Profile

Herbarium sheet images:
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Live specimen images:

 Branchlet with leaves  Individual leaf 1  Individual leaf 2  Individual leaf 3  Individual leaf 4  Branchlet with buds  Close-up of buds.  Flower  Fruits in cone-like aggregate  Close-up of fruits •

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