Tulip Poplar Tree - Liriodendron tulipifera
The Tulip Poplar is known by several names, including tulip tree, yellow poplar, and fiddle tree. However, it is not a true poplar, but a member of the magnolia family. Its name may refer to its lobed leaves, which resemble the shape of tulip blossoms, or to its distinctive flowers. In May and June, the tree is covered in distinctive blooms. These flowers are 1½ to 2 inches in diameter and are yellow-green in color, with a hint of orange at the base. The fragrant flowers waft scent throughout the yard and attract hummingbirds. After the flowers fade, the tulip poplar is covered in colorful seeds. These seeds, lasting into winter, provide food that attracts finches, cardinals, and other birds, as well as small mammals such as mice, squirrels, and chipmunks. Then, in fall, the leaves turn a brilliant yellow, providing a shimmering spot of vibrant color to any yard. Suitable for Zones 4-9, it is hardy to temperatures of -20°F. The tulip poplar is fast growing, increasing in height by up to two feet a year, until it reaches a mature height of around 70 feet. At times, though, these trees can be much taller, such as those planted by George Washington at his home Mount Vernon, where they now reach a height of 140 feet. This longevity is another advantage of the tulip poplar. The tulip poplar thrives in full sun, but it can tolerate some shade. Ideally, it should receive at least six hours of unfiltered sunlight every day. While it is drought tolerant in humid conditions, the tulip polar prefers normal moisture. It grows well in a variety of soil types, from sandy to clay and moist to well-drained, in acidic and loamy soils. The tulip poplar reaches a width of 40 feet, with an oval-shaped canopy providing shade. This shade, as well as its color and blooms, make the tulip poplar a welcome addition.