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The Tall and Straight Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera) is a deciduous tree found in mid-western and eastern United States and Ontario in Canada. This tree is a host plant to three species of butterfly and one species of moth. The large yellow flowers come out in the spring. It tends to grow in floodplains and places where there is moist soil, but it can handle places that are occasionally dry. Being on the one of the tallest trees it can reach a height of 150 feet tall.

Taxonomy and History of Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

Herbarium specimen of tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera).
Herbarium Specimen — Liriodendron tulipifera L. collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

Taxonomy

Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera) was described and named by Carl Von Linnaeus in 1753 in Species Plantarum. It has kept the same name since. This plant is a member of the Magnolia Family (Magnoliaceae). It is one of the tallest trees in the eastern United States.

Tuliptree Description and Alternative Names

Tree of tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera) in an open area.
Tree of Tuliptree — Dinkum, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Description

Tuliptree is a deciduous tree that can grow to up to 150 feet tall. When planted in a landscape situation it can be smaller. The alternate, simple, entire leaves range from 4 to 6 inches in length and width, although sometimes it can be more with shade leaves. They are shaped like a tulip, hence the name of the tree. It has yellow flowers that bloom in the spring.

Alternative Names

This plant is also known as Yellow Poplar, Tulip Tree, and Tulip Poplar.

Range and Habitat

Forest of Tuliptree in Delaware.
Tuliptree Forest — Author Image

Range

Range map of tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera) in the United States and Canada.

This species is native in the midwest and eastern United States, except for the extreme northeast. In Canada, it is found in Ontario.

Habitat

This tree is often found in floodplains and places where there is nutrient rich soil.

Insects and Other Wildlife it Supports

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly on a flower.
Eaatern Tiger Swallowtail on a flower — Shenandoah National Park from Virginia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Fruits of tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera).
Muséum de Toulouse, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Host Species

This tree is a host to the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus), Viceroy Butterfly (Limenitis archippus), and the Tuliptree Silk Moth (Callosamia angulifera).

Other Wildlife Value

The flowers attract bees, hummingbirds and other birds. The seeds are eaten by deer and gray squirrels.

Interesting Facts

The genus name, Liriodendron, is Latin for tree for flowers. The species name, tulipifera, refers to the tulip shape of the flowers. (Missouri Botanical Garden).

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