Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Northeast Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Liriodendron tulipifera L.
- Family: Magnolia (Magnoliaceae)
- Flowering: May-June
- Field Marks: The distinctive 4-lobed leaves, the large flowers with 6 petals, and the winged
fruits aggregated into a "cone" distinguish this species.
- Habitat: Rich woods.
- Habit: Large tree up to 100 feet tall; crown oblong or pyramidal from a long, columnar trunk; trunk diameter up to 4 feet; bark grayish, becoming furrowed at maturity.
- Twigs: Smooth, reddish brown; buds flattened, up to 1 inch long, resembling duck bills; leaf scars alternate, with several bundle traces, with stipule scars encircling the twig.
- Leaves: Alternate, simple, 4-lobed, the upper two lobes usually with a conspicuous notch between them, bright green, smooth or nearly so, up to 6 inches long, often as broad.
- Flowers: Solitary, up to 2 inches long, cup-shaped, producing great quantities of nectar.
- Sepals: 3, turned downward, about as long as the petals.
- Petals: 6, in 2 rows, yellow-green with an orange base, obovate, rounded at the tip.
- Stamens: Numerous.
- Pistils: Several, each with a superior ovary.
- Fruits: Dry "cones" up to 2 1/2 inches long, comprised of several seeds winged at one end.
- Notes: This species is sometimes known as tulip poplar or yellow poplar. The wood is used for canoes and as veneer cores to which other wood can be glued. This species is frequently grown as an ornamental. The seeds are eaten by squirrels and various kinds of birds, while the seedlings are browsed by deer.
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