Common Trees of the North Carolina Piedmont

Stephen M. Seiberling, Alan S. Weakley, and Peter S. White

Liriodendron tulipifera L. Tuliptree, tulip poplar, yellow poplar, whitewood. Family Magnoliaceae. ITIS Taxonomic Serial Number 18086. USDA PLANTS Symbol LITU. TROPICOS # 19300006.

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. • Herbarium sheet 1. • Herbarium sheet 2. • Herbarium sheet 3.

Detailed Description:

Plant habit and life style. Plants Angiosperms, synoecious, (10–)30–50(–60) m tall.

Stems. Pith continuous or diaphragmed. Young twigs (1-year-old or less) brown or gray or reddish-brown or yellow-green, glabrous. Twigs (2–4 years old) glabrous. Leaf scars half-round or oval or round, bundle scars numerous, stipule scars present, stipule scars circumferential. Bark of mature trunks furrowed or ridged.

Buds. Buds axillary or superposed or terminal, green or red or reddish-brown, 6–12(–14) mm long, oblong, blunt, glabrous, bud scales valvate.

Leaves. Leaves deciduous, simple, petiolate, alternate, (6–)7.5–15(–23.5) cm long, (6–)8–18.5(–25.5) cm wide, orbiculate, leaf margins entire, unlobed or shallowly lobed or moderately lobed or deeply lobed, palmately lobed or pinnately lobed, leaf lobes (1–)4–6(–10) per leaf, leaf apices emarginate or truncate, leaf bases cordate or cuneate or truncate. Leaf upper surface green, glabrous. Leaf lower surface green, pubescent, puberulent. Leaf venation pinnate. Petioles 5–15 cm long. Stipules present, 20–45 mm long, caducous or persistent, blade-like, circumferential.

Flowers. Flowering March or April or May or June. Inflorescences terminal, flowers solitary, flowers stalked. Flowers bisexual, hypogynous. Perianth. Calyx radially symmetric, aposepalous. Sepals 3 per flower, 3.5–6 mm long, reflexed or ascending, green or yellow-green, lanceolate or ovate, sepal apices rounded, caducous. Corolla radially symmetric, campanulate, apopetalous. Petals 6 per flower, 40–60 mm long, 18–30 mm wide, ascending, green or orange or yellow or yellow-green, elliptic or oval or ovate, petal apices obtuse or rounded or truncate, caducous. Androecium. Stamens 20–50 per flower, separate, filaments 10–25 mm long, anthers 20–35 mm long. Gynoecium. Ovaries superior, pistils 60–100 per flower. Gynoecium apocarpous, 60–100 carpels per flower, styles 1 per pistil, placentation marginal. Other floral features. Receptacles cone-like.

Fruits. Fruits accessory fruits or aggregate fruits or samaras, (1.3–)4.5–8.5 cm long, brown or tan, fruit maturation 1 years.

Habitat. Habitat bogs and seepages or bottomland forests or disturbed and weedy areas or mesic upland forests or mixed forest edges or rock outcrops or suburban plantings.

Special Diagnostic Characters. Leaves broadly truncate, usually with a notch at the apex, two terminal lobes, and typically two, large, outspreading, lateral lobes toward the base; terminal buds more or less flattened, appearing somewhat like a duck's bill; petals typically yellowish green with an orangish spot near the base; winged samaras in cone-like clusters that often persist on the tree through the winter.

Cite this publication as: ‘Stephen M. Seiberling, Alan S. Weakley, and Peter S. White (2005 onwards). Common Trees of the North Carolina Piedmont: Identification, Descriptions, Illustrations, and Glossary. Version: March 7, 2006. <>’.

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