names: tulip tree, tulip-poplar, tuliptree, tulip-tree, whitewood,
yellow poplar, yellow-poplar.
Synonyms: Liriodendron procera Salisbury, Tulipifera
liriodendron P. Miller.
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.
• Branchlet with leaves
leaf 1 • Individual leaf 2
leaf 3 • Individual leaf 4
with buds • Close-up of buds.
• Fruits in
cone-like aggregate • Close-up of fruits