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Tulip Tree, Tulip Poplar

tulip polar main sized
The tulip tree, also known as the tulip poplar, is named for the distinctive shape of its beautiful blooms, which are on display from late May to mid-June. The tulip tree is North America's tallest native hardwood tree and probably existed on Manhattan prior to Central Park's creation. Many aspects of the tulip tree make them easily identifiable: They are very tall and very straight, the tulip-like flowers in spring make way to pinecone-shaped seed spikes that often remain in winter, and the mask-like leaves turn brilliant golden yellow in fall, and have a shape like no other leaf in Central Park. Tulip trees are pollinated by hummingbirds, bumblebees, and tiger swallowtail butterflies.

Common Name: Tulip Tree, Tulip Poplar

Scientific Name: Liriodendron tulipifera

Origin: Eastern United States

Family: Magnoliaceae

Size: 70 - 90' tall

Form: Oval to pyramidal

Culture: Fleshy, poorly-branched root system; prefers deep, moist, fertile soil; slightly acidic soil is best; avoid very dry, hot sites with full sun


5 - 8" long, alternate arrangement, tulip-shaped, bright green, golden yellow in fall


2 - 3" long, tulip-shaped, upright blossoms, bloom late May to mid-June


Cone-shaped, aggregate, persists in winter


Gray; fine stripes of light gray on long, narrow, trench-like surface