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Liriodendron tulipifera.jpg
Liriodendron tulipifera foliage and flower.
Morton Arboretum acc. 500-67*21
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Magnoliids
Order: Magnoliales
Family: Magnoliaceae

Liriodendron chinense (Hemsl.) Sarg.
Liriodendron tulipifera L.


Liriodendron /ˌlriəˈdɛndrən, ˌlɪr-, -i-/ [1] [2] is a genus of two species of characteristically large deciduous trees in the magnolia family (Magnoliaceae).

Family is one of the eight major hierarchical taxonomic ranks in Linnaean taxonomy; it is classified between order and genus. A family may be divided into subfamilies, which are intermediate ranks between the ranks of family and genus. The official family names are Latin in origin; however, popular names are often used: for example, walnut trees and hickory trees belong to the family Juglandaceae, but that family is commonly referred to as being the "walnut family".

Magnoliaceae family of plants

The Magnoliaceae are a flowering plant family, the magnolia family, in the order Magnoliales. It consists of two subfamilies: Magnolioideae, of which Magnolia is the best-known genus, and Liriodendroidae, a monogeneric subfamily, of which Liriodendron is the only genus.

These trees are widely known by the common name tulip tree or tuliptree for their large flowers superficially resembling tulips. It is sometimes referred to as tulip poplar or yellow poplar, and the wood simply as "poplar", although not closely related to the true poplars. Other common names include canoewood, saddle-leaf tree, and white wood.

Tulip genus of bulbous flowering plants

Tulips (Tulipa) form a genus of spring-blooming perennial herbaceous bulbiferous geophytes. The flowers are usually large, showy and brightly coloured, generally red, pink, yellow, or white. They often have a different coloured blotch at the base of the tepals, internally. Because of a degree of variability within the populations, and a long history of cultivation, classification has been complex and controversial. The tulip is a member of the Liliaceae (lily) family, along with 14 other genera, where it is most closely related to Amana, Erythronium and Gagea in the tribe Lilieae. There are about 75 species, and these are divided among four subgenera. The name "tulip" is thought to be derived from a Persian word for turban, which it may have been thought to resemble. Tulips originally were found in a band stretching from Southern Europe to Central Asia, but since the seventeenth century have become widely naturalised and cultivated. In their natural state they are adapted to steppes and mountainous areas with temperate climates. Flowering in the spring, they become dormant in the summer once the flowers and leaves die back, emerging above ground as a shoot from the underground bulb in early spring.

<i>Populus</i> genus of plants

Populus is a genus of 25–35 species of deciduous flowering plants in the family Salicaceae, native to most of the Northern Hemisphere. English names variously applied to different species include poplar, aspen, and cottonwood.

The botanical name Liriodendron tulipifera originates from Greek: Liriodendron, which means lillytree, and tulipifera which means "bringing forth tulips", alluding to the resemmblance of its flowers to a tulip.

The two extant species are Liriodendron tulipifera , native to eastern North America and Liriodendron chinense , native to China and Vietnam. Both species often grow to great size, sometimes exceeding 50 m (164 ft) in height. The American species is commonly used horticulturally, and hybrids have been produced between these two allopatrically distributed species.

<i>Liriodendron tulipifera</i> species of plant

Liriodendron tulipifera—known as the tulip tree, American tulip tree, tulipwood, tuliptree, tulip poplar, whitewood, fiddletree, and yellow-poplar—is the North American representative of the two-species genus Liriodendron, and the tallest eastern hardwood. It is native to eastern North America from Southern Ontario and Illinois eastward to southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and south to central Florida and Louisiana. It can grow to more than 50 m (160 ft) in virgin cove forests of the Appalachian Mountains, often with no limbs until it reaches 25–30 m (80–100 ft) in height, making it a very valuable timber tree. It is fast-growing, without the common problems of weak wood strength and short lifespan often seen in fast-growing species. April marks the start of the flowering period in the Southern United States ; trees at the northern limit of cultivation begin to flower in June. The flowers are pale green or yellow, with an orange band on the tepals; they yield large quantities of nectar. The tulip tree is the state tree of Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Native plant plant indigenous to an area

Native plants are plants indigenous to a given area in geologic time. This includes plants that have developed, occur naturally, or existed for many years in an area.

North America Continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere

North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere; it is also considered by some to be a northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea.

Various extinct species of Liriodendron have been described from the fossil record.

Liriodendron chinense twig with flowers. Notice that the orange pigment characteristic of L. tulipifera petals is absent. Liriodendron chinense1.jpg
Liriodendron chinense twig with flowers. Notice that the orange pigment characteristic of L. tulipifera petals is absent.


Liriodendron trees are easily recognized by their leaves, which are distinctive, having four lobes in most cases and a cross-cut notched or straight apex. Leaf size varies from 8–22 cm long and 6–25 cm wide. The tulip tree is often a large tree, 18–50 m high and 60–120 cm in diameter. The [3] tree grows to an extreme height of 190' in groves where they compete for sunlight, somewhat less if growing in an open field. Its trunk is usually columnar, with a long, branch-free bole forming a compact, rather than open, conical crown of slender branches. It has deep roots that spread widely. [4]

Leaf organ of a vascular plant, composing its foliage

A leaf is an organ of a vascular plant and is the principal lateral appendage of the stem. The leaves and stem together form the shoot. Leaves are collectively referred to as foliage, as in "autumn foliage".

Leaves are slightly larger in L. chinense, compared to L. tulipifera, but with considerable overlap between the species; the petiole is 4–18 cm long. Leaves on young trees tend to be more deeply lobed and larger in size than those on mature trees. In autumn, the leaves turn yellow, or brown and yellow. Both species grow rapidly in rich, moist soils of temperate climates. They hybridize easily.

Petiole (botany)

In botany, the petiole is the stalk that attaches the leaf blade to the stem. Outgrowths appearing on each side of the petiole in some species are called stipules. Leaves lacking a petiole are called sessile or epetiolate.

Hybrid (biology) offspring of cross-species reproduction

In biology, a hybrid is the offspring resulting from combining the qualities of two organisms of different breeds, varieties, species or genera through sexual reproduction. Hybrids are not always intermediates between their parents, but can show hybrid vigour, sometimes growing larger or taller than either parent. The concept of a hybrid is interpreted differently in animal and plant breeding, where there is interest in the individual parentage. In genetics, attention is focused on the numbers of chromosomes. In taxonomy, a key question is how closely related the parent species are.

Flowers are 3–10 cm in diameter and have nine tepals — three green outer sepals and six inner petals which are yellow-green with an orange flare at the base. They start forming after around 15 years and are superficially similar to a tulip in shape, hence the tree's name. Flowers of L. tulipifera have a faint cucumber odor. The stamens and pistils are arranged spirally around a central spike or gynaecium; the stamens fall off, and the pistils become the samaras. The fruit is a cone-like aggregate of samaras 4–9 cm long, each of which has a roughly tetrahedral seed with one edge attached to the central conical spike and the other edge attached to the wing.

Flower structure found in some plants (division Magnoliophyta / angiosperms) to support reproduction

A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants. The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs. Flowers may facilitate outcrossing or allow selfing. Some flowers produce diaspores without fertilization (parthenocarpy). Flowers contain sporangia and are the site where gametophytes develop. Many flowers have evolved to be attractive to animals, so as to cause them to be vectors for the transfer of pollen. After fertilization, the ovary of the flower develops into fruit containing seeds.


A tepal is one of the outer parts of a flower. The term is used when these parts cannot easily be classified as either sepals or petals. This may be because the parts of the perianth are undifferentiated, as in Magnolia, or because, although it is possible to distinguish an outer whorl of sepals from an inner whorl of petals, the sepals and petals have similar appearance to one another. The term was first proposed by Augustin Pyramus de Candolle in 1827 and was constructed by analogy with the terms "petal" and "sepal".

Cucumber species of plant

Cucumber is a widely cultivated plant in the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae. It is a creeping vine that bears cucumiform fruits that are used as vegetables. There are three main varieties of cucumber: slicing, pickling, and seedless. Within these varieties, several cultivars have been created. In North America, the term "wild cucumber" refers to plants in the genera Echinocystis and Marah, but these are not closely related. The cucumber is originally from South Asia, but now grows on most continents. Many different types of cucumber are traded on the global market.

Tulip tree bark Tree Types and Barks 003.jpg
Tulip tree bark
Tulip tree flower Liriodendron tulipifera flower.jpg
Tulip tree flower
Tuliptrees can be very large. This 130-footer in Pennsylvania with a 5-foot trunk dwarfs a group of mature oaks and maples. TinicumParkTuliptree.jpg
Tuliptrees can be very large. This 130-footer in Pennsylvania with a 5-foot trunk dwarfs a group of mature oaks and maples.

,the average height is around 70-100ft.


Liriodendron trees are also easily recognized by their general shape, with the higher branches sweeping together in one direction, and they are also recognizable by their height, as the taller ones usually protrude above the canopy of oaks, maples, and other trees—more markedly with the American species. Appalachian cove forests often contain several tulip trees of height and girth not seen in other species of eastern hardwoods.

In the Appalachian cove forests, trees 150 to 165 ft in height are common, and trees from 166 to nearly 180 ft are also found. More Liriodendron over 170 ft in height have been measured by the Eastern Native Tree Society than for any other eastern species. The current tallest tulip tree on record has reached 191.9 ft, the tallest native angiosperm tree known in North America. [5] The tulip tree is rivaled in eastern forests only by white pine, loblolly pine, and eastern hemlock. Reports of tulip trees over 200 ft have been made, but none of the measurements has been confirmed by the Eastern Native Tree Society. Most reflect measurement errors attributable to not accurately locating the highest crown point relative to the base of the tree—a common error made by the users employing only clinometers/hypsometers when measuring height.

Maximum circumferences for the species are between 24 and 30 ft at breast height, although a few historical specimens may have been slightly larger. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has the greatest population of tulip trees 20 ft and over in circumference. The largest-volume tulip tree known anywhere is the Sag Branch Giant, which has a trunk and limb volume approaching 4,000 cu ft (110 m3).


Liriodendrons have been reported as fossils from the late Cretaceous and early Tertiary of North America and central Asia. They are known widely as Tertiary-age fossils in Europe and well outside their present range in Asia and North America, showing a once-circumpolar northern distribution. Like many "Arcto-Tertiary" genera, Liriodendron apparently became extinct in Europe due to large-scale glaciation and aridity of climate during glacial phases. (The name should not be confused with Lepidodendron, an important group of long-extinct pteridophytes in the phylum Lycopodiophyta common as Paleozoic coal-age fossils).

Cultivation and use

Tulip trees serving an ornamental role in Vancouver. Liriodendron tulipifera at Vancouver BC 10th Ave at Dunbar in spring.jpg
Tulip trees serving an ornamental role in Vancouver.

Liriodendron trees prefer a temperate climate, sun or part shade, and deep, fertile, well-drained and slightly acidic soil. Propagation is by seed or grafting. Plants grown from seed may take more than eight years to flower. Grafted plants flower depending on the age of the scion plant.

The wood of the North American species (called poplar or tulipwood) is fine grained and stable. It is easy to work and commonly used for cabinet and furniture framing, i.e. internal structural members and subsurfaces for veneering. Additionally, much inexpensive furniture, described for sales purposes simply as "hardwood", is in fact primarily stained poplar. In the literature of American furniture manufacturers from the first half of the 20th century, it is often referred to as "gum wood". The wood is only moderately rot-resistant and is not commonly used in shipbuilding, but has found some recent use in light-craft construction. The wood is readily available, and when air dried, has a density around 24 lb/cu ft (0.38 g/cm3).

The name canoewood probably refers to the tree's use for construction of dugout canoes by eastern Native Americans, for which its fine grain and large trunk size is eminently suited.

Tulip tree leaves are eaten by the caterpillars of some Lepidoptera, for example the eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus).

Species and cultivars

Liriodendron at Hingham Center Cemetery, Hingham, Massachusetts Liriodendron.jpg
Liriodendron at Hingham Center Cemetery, Hingham, Massachusetts
Bud of a Liriodendron hybrid Liriodendron tulipifera x chinense (Hybrid of Tulip Tree) (26532119311).jpg
Bud of a Liriodendron hybrid

Related Research Articles

<i>Populus sect. Aigeiros</i> section of plants

Populus section Aigeiros is a section of three species in the genus Populus, the poplars. Like some other species in the genus Populus, they are commonly known as cottonwoods. The species are native to North America, Europe, and western Asia. In the past, as many as six species were recognized, but recent trends have been to accept just three species, treating the others as subspecies of P. deltoides.

<i>Magnolia acuminata</i> species of plant

Magnolia acuminata, commonly called the cucumber tree, cucumber magnolia or blue magnolia, is one of the largest magnolias, and one of the cold-hardiest. It is a large forest tree of the Eastern United States and Southern Ontario in Canada. It is a tree that tends to occur singly as scattered specimens, rather than in groves.

<i>Magnolia virginiana</i> species of plant

Magnolia virginiana, most commonly known as sweetbay magnolia, or merely sweetbay, is a member of the magnolia family, Magnoliaceae. It was the first magnolia to be scientifically described under modern rules of botanical nomenclature, and is the type species of the genus Magnolia; as Magnolia is also the type genus of all flowering plants (magnoliophytes), this species in a sense typifies all flowering plants.

<i>Magnolia grandiflora</i> species of plant

Magnolia grandiflora, commonly known as the southern magnolia or bull bay, is a tree of the family Magnoliaceae native to the southeastern United States, from southeastern North Carolina to central Florida, and west to East Texas. Reaching 27.5 m (90 ft) in height, it is a large, striking evergreen tree, with large dark green leaves up to 20 cm long and 12 cm wide, and large, white, fragrant flowers up to 30 cm (12 in) in diameter.

<i>Michelia</i> section of plants

Michelia is a historical genus of flowering plants belonging to the Magnolia family (Magnoliaceae). The genus included about 50 species of evergreen trees and shrubs, native to tropical and subtropical south and southeast Asia (Indomalaya), including southern China. Today it is regarded as a synonym of Magnolia.

<i>Magnolia tripetala</i> species of plant

Magnolia tripetala, commonly called umbrella magnolia or simply umbrella-tree, is a deciduous tree native to the eastern United States in the Appalachian Mountains, the Ozarks, and the Ouachita Mountains. The name "umbrella tree" derives from the fact that the large leaves are clustered at the tips of the branches forming an umbrella-shaped structure.

<i>Juglans cinerea</i> species of plant

Juglans cinerea, commonly known as butternut or white walnut, is a species of walnut native to the eastern United States and southeast Canada.

<i>Magnolia sieboldii</i> species of plant

Magnolia sieboldii, Siebold's magnolia, also known as Korean mountain magnolia and Oyama magnolia, is a species of Magnolia native to east Asia in China, Japan, and Korea. It is named after the German doctor Philipp Franz von Siebold (1796–1866).

Tulipwood type of wood

Most commonly, tulipwood is the pinkish yellowish wood yielded from the tulip tree, found on the Eastern side of North America and also in some parts of China. In the United States, it is commonly known as tulip poplar or yellow poplar, even though the tree is not related to the poplars. In fact, the reference to poplar is a result of the tree's height, which can exceed 100 feet. The wood is very light, around 490 kg per cubic meter, but very strong and is used in many applications, including furniture, joinery and moldings. It can also be stained very easily and is often used as a low-cost alternative to walnut and cherry in furniture and doors.

Magnolia globosa is a species of Magnolia native to Bhutan, southwestern China, northeastern India, northern Myanmar-Burma, and eastern Nepal.

<i>Tilia americana</i> species of plant

Tilia americana is a species of tree in the family Malvaceae, native to eastern North America, from southeast Manitoba east to New Brunswick, southwest to northeast Oklahoma, southeast to South Carolina, and west along the Niobrara River to Cherry County, Nebraska. Common names include American basswood and American linden. The tree was introduced to the UK in 1752, but has never prospered there, being prone to dieback.

Poplar may refer to:

<i>Liriodendron chinense</i> species of plant

Liriodendron chinense is Asia's native species in the genus Liriodendron. This native of central and southern China grows in the provinces of Anhui, Guangxi, Jiangsu, Fujian, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Shaanxi, Zhejiang, Sichuan and Yunnan, and also locally in northern Vietnam. Protected populations occur in the Tianmushan National Reserve, Huangshan, Wuyi Shan, and Badagongshan Nature Reserve.

Appalachian mixed mesophytic forests ecoregion in the eastern United States

The Appalachian mixed mesophytic forests is an ecoregion of the temperate broadleaf and mixed forests biome, as defined by the World Wildlife Fund. It consists of mesophytic plants west of the Appalachian Mountains in the Southeastern United States.

<i>Populus deltoides</i> species of plant

Populus deltoides, the eastern cottonwood or necklace poplar, is a cottonwood poplar native to North America, growing throughout the eastern, central, and southwestern United States, the southernmost part of eastern Canada, and northeastern Mexico.

<i>Magnolia kobus</i> species of plant

Magnolia kobus, known as mokryeon, kobus magnolia, or kobushi magnolia, is a species of Magnolia native to Japan and Korea and occasionally cultivated in temperate areas. It is a deciduous, small to tall tree which has a slow rate of growth but can reach 8–15 m (25–75 ft) in height and up to 10 m (35 ft) in spread.

A member of the Magnoliaceae family, Magnolia nana is an evergreen shrub that produces white or cream colored flowers. It can grow to be 2–3 ft (61–91 cm) in height and 2–3 ft (61–91 cm) in width. The Dwarf Magnolia is native to South East Asia, specifically Vietnam. It grows in most moderate climates, but cannot withstand dryness or drought. Magnolia nana grows best in well drained, partially alkaline soil, with exposure to partial sunlight.

<i>Markhamia lutea</i> species of plant

Markhamia lutea,Nile tulip, Nile trumpet or siala tree is a tree species of the plant family Bignoniaceae, native to eastern Africa and cultivated for its large bright yellow flowers. It is related to the African tulip tree. Native to Africa, Markhamia was named in the honour of Clements Markham (1830-1916), who worked in India. An evergreen small tree that grows to 4–5 m in height outside of native zones, although it can reach more than 10 m in its zones of origin. Leaves, of 20–30 cm in length, normally arranged in groups in the ends of the branches. Flowers in terminal clusters. They are trumpet shaped, yellow in colour, with orange-reddish spots in the throat. They measure 5–6 cm in length. Fruit is a capsule, of up to 70 cm in length, with abundant winged seeds. It is propagated by seeds.


  1. "Liriodendron". Oxford Dictionaries . Oxford University Press . Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  2. Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  4. Michigan Trees
  5. "Fork Ridge Tuliptree- new eastern height record!!!". Eastern Native Tree Society, Will Blozan. Retrieved Apr 29, 2011.