The Tulip Tree is a large, magnificent, stately tree that is renowned for its regal form and its beautiful, unique blossoms. It is a tall tree with a columnar trunk and upright, curving branches. The trunk has ridged, light brown bark and it may be free of branches for much of its length so that it resembles a Greek column. It is the largest hardwood tree that is native to eastern North America. It can grow up to 180 feet in height and with a thick trunk that can be several feet in diameter. In the spring, it has large, goblet-shaped flowers that are unlike the flowers of any other tree. The flowers are light green or pale yellow with an orange band and the base of each petal. The flowers resemble the blossoms of a tulip, and so the tree is called the Tulip Tree. The leaves of the Tulip Tree are also unique. They are medium or bright green and very lush in appearance. They have four lobes or they are unlobed and they have a squarish apex. Leaves are deciduous and they turn golden yellow in the autumn. Flowers are followed by dry, scaly, oblong, cone-shaped brown fruits, each bearing numerous winged seeds. The Tulip Tree is related to the magnolias and, like them, it is also an ancient and very primitive flowering plant. It is widely grown as a specimen tree, a shade tree, a street tree and as a flowering tree. Avenues lined with rows of large Tulip Trees are very beautiful. It is also called the Yellow Poplar. Wood is used for furniture, plywood, boatbuilding, paper pulp and general lumber. Native Americans made dugout canoes from Tulip Tree trunks. This is the state tree of Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana.
Growing Instructions for the Tulip Tree
The seeds have a period of dormancy. They can be planted outdoors in the fall or winter for spring germination or they can be cold stratified to simulate winter conditions and to break their dormancy at any time of the year. 1. Soak the seeds in water for 24 hours. 2. Place the seeds in a plastic bag and seal it. Store the bag in a refrigerator for 12-16 weeks. 3. Fill a pot with potting soil. Use a pot that has drainage holes in the base. 4. Sow the seeds on the soil and cover them with a thin layer of soil. 5. Water the container and leave it to drain. 6. Put the pot in a warm, sunny area. 7. Water the pot regularly so that the soil is moist but not wet. 8. The seedlings can be transplanted when they are a few inches tall.