Plants of New Jersey # 24 Tulip Tree

Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

Welcome! Today we are going to discuss the mighty Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera). The Tulip Tree is the tallest (and some might say the most beautiful) hardwood tree in the eastern forest which sometimes earn them the nickname ‘The Redwoods of the East’. The trees can obtain heights up to 200 feet but usually they are around 100 feet. The trunk of the tree grows very straight and usually does not have any branches until about 80-100 feet. The tree is very fast growing and can live up to 500 years. Tulip Tree is part of the Magnolia family of plants. “Liriodendron” is Greek for “Lily Tree”.

Tulip Tree Trunk

The trunk of the Tulip Tree can grow 4-6 feet in diameter and is second only to the American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) for its width. The tree is shade intolerant and grows best in deep rich soil. The wetland indicator status for Tulip Tree is FACU which means that while the tree is usually found in uplands it may be found in freshwater wetlands on occasion. 

Tulip Tree Flowers

The flowers of the Tulip Tree resemble tulips (hence the name of the tree!). The flowers bloom from late May to mid-June and are cup shaped with pale green/yellow flowers with an orange tint. Tulip Trees generally do not begin to have flowers until they are about twenty years of age.

Tulip Tree Flower Petal

Here is a petal from the flower where you can see the colors.

Tulip Tree Leaf

Some say that the leaf of the Tulip Tree is itself tulip shaped. What do you see?

Tulip Tree

The Tulip Tree is host to the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly. Northern Cardinals and White-Footed Mice eat the seeds of the Tulip Tree.

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