Garden Guides, Facts on the Tulip Poplar Tree

Facts on the Tulip Poplar Tree

By: Kimberly Richardson

21 September, 2017

Native to the eastern elevations of North America, the tulip poplar tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) is a deciduous tree that is also known as yellow poplar. It is not a member of the poplar family (Populus sp.), but lumberyards label the wood as poplar wood, shortening the common name of yellow poplar. The scientific name, Liriodendron, means lily tree.


According to the University of Kentucky, the tulip poplar is the tallest North American hardwood tree. It is named for the distinctive green and orange tulip-shaped flowers that grow upright, high in the tree, in May and June. The flowers produce samaras, cone-shaped spirals of seeds, in fall, and the seeds themselves are extremely sharp. The four-lobed leaves grow 6 inches wide and turn yellow or brown in fall. Duck-bill shaped buds appear in winter.


Tulip trees require moist, rich soil and full sun. They are fast growers, to 80 feet tall, and quickly overwhelm small residential yards. Tulip poplar trees in forests grow twice as high. Cultivated tulip poplar trees are conical and branch to the ground; the wild populations lose their lower branches and have high canopies. These environmentally sensitive trees do not recover from spring frosts or drought quickly. Water tulip poplars in hot weather or during dry periods, or the tree sheds leaves early.


Fossils of the tulip tree show that it once circumscribed the northern hemisphere, growing in Europe and Asia in prehistoric ages. Native Americans used the tulip tree to treat infections, and early European explorers were astounded by the height. Botanists sent collected trees back to Europe, where the climate agreed with the tulip poplar. It is now the most popular American tree in European gardens.

Native Americans used the tulip tree to treat infections. Early settlers called the tulip tree «canoe wood» and harvested it for ships, paper mills and construction. Lumber companies decimated vast stands of tulip poplar after the Civil War for the light, easily workable wood, and mills still value it as a lumber source. Other uses include gourmet honey production and limited manufacturing. A heart stimulant, hydrochlorate of tulipiferine, is made from the inner bark and roots.


Tulip poplar trees are susceptible to drought and, if conditions are dry, drop their leaves in July or August. Strong winds easily damage the weak wood and the tulip poplar litters the ground beneath it with twigs and small branches. They do not tolerate environmental stresses and are vulnerable to verticillium wilt, a fungus that remains in the soil. Aphids prefer feeding on the tulip poplar, often infesting the tree.

Facts About the Tulip Tree

By: John Lindell

21 September, 2017

The tulip tree, tulip poplar and yellow poplar are all the same species of tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), and to add to the confusion, the tree belongs to the magnolia family and not the poplars. The tulip tree is not a difficult tree to identify due to some very distinctive foliage, flowers and a large size. The tulip tree is a valuable source of fine lumber that goes into products such as furniture, but is also useful as a shade species.

Before logging took the largest tulip trees from their forest settings, some of these giants reached 200 feet high. The species is the tallest of the eastern forests in the United States, featuring a straight trunk with few branches until you reach the canopy. Some can grow now to be 150 feet tall, but most tulip trees are in the 80- to 120-foot-size range, says the “National Audubon Society Field Guide to Trees.” Tulip trees can have a trunk as wide as 4 to 6 feet.


Two different features of the tulip tree give it its name: its flowers and leaves. The cup-shaped flowers are as wide as 2 inches and look like those of the tulip, with six petals that are green-yellow on the exterior and yellow-orange on their insides. The flowers, however, may be difficult to spot in the larger specimens, as they typically occur in the tops of the tree. The leaves, when you observe their shape, look like the outline of a tulip. The leaves can be from 4 to 6 inches wide and usually have four lobes. In the autumn, the leaves change to a yellow hue.


Three states—Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee—designated the tulip tree as their state tree. The tulip tree occurs from the extreme southern parts of New England westward to the Great Lakes as far as Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. The southward border of the tree’s range extends east from eastern Louisiana to northern Florida. The tulip tree sometimes grows in pure stands and in damp forests, as well as on field borders.

Growing Conditions

Consider how much room you have to allow a tulip tree to grow before you select this species as an ornamental or shade tree. The size of the tree often does not suit small yards. The tulip tree will grow well in full or partial sunshine, in soil with a slight acidity and in ground that drains fairly well. It can adapt to less than perfect conditions such as dry soil. Tulip tree grows quickly when young, as much as 2 to 3 feet each year. Transplant one in the spring instead of waiting until autumn to give it a full growing season to establish itself.

In addition to its uses in the lumber industry, due to the wood being soft, lightweight and easy to work with, the tulip tree is an important species ecologically. The tree’s buds and twigs are popular with deer, squirrels and many types of birds. Bees seek out the flowers, due to their prominence, and the nectar they find eventually becomes honey in many instances. Those that look for morel mushrooms, a very sought-after species for food purposes, know that they often exist beneath a tulip tree, says the Virginia Department of Forestry.

Growing Poplar Trees: Information And Tips For Planting Hybrid Poplar Trees

Homeowners love growing poplar trees (Populus spp.) because these American natives shoot up fast, bringing shade and beauty into backyards. There are some 35 species of poplar and, since they cross-pollinate, an infinite number of hybrids. Are poplar trees good or bad as shade trees? Read on to learn the factors that you must consider before growing poplar trees.

Poplar Tree Facts

Poplars can grow very tall and anchor their trunks with powerful roots. These roots might cause problems for homeowners or gardeners who are not familiar with basic poplar tree facts. For instance, planting hybrid poplar trees near houses is not recommended. Poplar trees thrive in warm weather and moist to wet soil. They grow most prolifically in the southern states where these conditions are met.

Although poplar varieties range in height and breadth, most share some traits that make them easy to recognize. For example, you can often distinguish a poplar by its leaves that are often heart-shaped and rimmed with tiny teeth. Brilliant green in summer, they glow gold in autumn.


Every poplar tree bears both male and female flowers, and in springtime, before the leaves open, you can see hanging clusters of yellow blossoms. The fruits also appear before the poplars leaf. They are small capsules that contain the seeds.

You are most likely to see four poplar varieties in the United States: white, eastern, Lombardy, and balsam poplar. The first two are massive trees, growing to over 100 feet tall. Lombardy poplar grows in a pyramid shape, while balsam poplar is found in swampland in the northern half of the country.

Poplar Tree Care

Whether you are planting hybrid poplar trees or one of the popular varieties, you’ll find that poplar tree care is easy in the proper location. Poplars need fertile soil, acidic or neutral, as well as direct sun and sufficient water to keep their roots moist.

One of the most important poplar tree facts is the sheer size of the tree. It rises to between 50 and 165 feet high with a trunk diameter of up to 8 feet. You must be sure that your tree will have sufficient room to grow to its full size.

Are Poplar Trees Good or Bad?

Poplars are wonderful backyard trees, good for specimen planting as well as wind-rows. However, like every species, they have disadvantages.

If you’ve heard stories about poplar roots crumbling house foundations, you already know a major issue with poplars. To hold up those huge trunks, poplars have powerful roots that can raise a sidewalk or disrupt a sewer line. Keep this in mind when selecting a planting location.

The other downside of poplars is that they don’t live long. Even with the best poplar tree care, specimens die in about 50 years and you’ll have to plant again.

Tulip Poplar Tree Facts, Uses, and Planting Tips

The tulip poplar is also known as the tulip tree or the yellow poplar. It is a hardwood tree that’s native to most of the eastern United States. It is not a true poplar tree but instead is a member of the magnolia tree family.

In some regions of the United States, tulip poplars can reach heights of 160 feet and higher. There have been records of tulip poplar trees reaching heights of up to 190 feet. Yet most of them will, on average, reach heights of 70 to 100 feet. The tulip poplar is also a quick-growing tree. A plus for the tulip poplar is that it tends to live longer than other fast-growing trees. It’s also a hardwood, which many fast-growing trees are not. The trees flourish best in low shade/full sun with well-drained soil. Young tulip poplars are vulnerable to damage from vines of wild grapes. The vines can weigh the tree down. They can also decrease the amount of sunlight that reaches the young tulip poplars. Poison ivy and other vines pose the same threat to damaging the tree.

The flowers of a tulip poplar tree tend to show in the spring in southern regions of the United States. While, in more northern regions, they bloom later in spring in June. The trees begin to show their first blooms when the tree is within ten to fifteen years of its age. The colors of the tree’s flowers can be a pale green or yellow. The coloring may be dependent on the temperature of the region and many other factors. There have also been occurrences of the flowers on a tulip poplar tree being white in color. This is a rare occurrence though and is not uniform across the tree’s blooms. The flowers also have an orange colored segment. The appearance of the flowers is where the tree gets its name since their petals resemble tulips. The amount of nectar produced can be around a tablespoon per flower and it is why the tree is popular with beekeepers. The nectar is also popular because it also contributes to the rich and strong flavor of poplar honey.

Use as a Raw Material

The tulip poplar is also popular as a lower-cost and strong wood for furniture, flooring, and many other uses. Another popular use is as siding. In the past, it was also used as an alternative to siding made from white pine wood. It is a low-cost alternative in many respects for consumer use and applications. The tulip poplar was also used in the building of houses, cabins, and barns, as beams. This was due to its strength and resistance to termites.

Medicinal and Dietary Uses

Historic Uses

The bark of a tulip poplar, when boiled in water, was used as a medicinal tea for treating typhoid and malaria. It was used as an alternative to quinine. The inner bark was useful in treating rheumatism and arthritis. This was also a common use of the bark of many trees within the magnolia family. The tea from the bark, when boiled down, is also useful as a cough syrup. The flowers of the tulip poplar have been used, when prepared, as an ointment for soothing skin and to aid in the healing of burns.

The oldest living tulip poplar tree, at present, is the Queens Giant in New York City. It is believed to be between 350 and 400 years old. Its age may be up to 450 years old. It is also 133.8 feet in height when it was last measured in 2005.


Tulip Poplar from the University of Kentucky Department of Horticulture

Liriodendron tulipifera from the Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

Questions & Answers

When was the Tulip Poplar chosen as the state tree for Tennessee?

The Tulip Poplar become the state tree for Tennessee in 1947. See also:

I have a two-year-old tulip poplar that I transplanted this past summer. Unfortunately, a deer bit the top 3 inches off of it. Will it still be ok, or should I start with a new tree?

It should be fine just as long as the tree still has some branches and its height is still well above the ground.

If you haven’t, you can also build a protective cage around the tree to prevent deer from causing more damage to the tree. A good video with instructions on building one is at

I planted a tulip poplar in Houston, The leaves come out looking good and then start to look variegated. A local nursery told me that they thought the tree was hungry and recommended an all-purpose dry organic fertilizer. I’ve been feeding the trees and still get the variegated leaves which in the past year have developed black spots and fallen off, Can tell me what to do to help my tree? Each spring the leaves come out looking like the tree we had in my childhood backyard in Memphis, TN.

It’s possible that your catalpa is being affected by a fungus and the continued use of 10-10-10 fertilizer will help the tree fight the effects of any disease. The page at gives more insight into diseases that catalpas are susceptible to.

For what’s causing the damage to your tree’s leaves, you may want to inquire about fungicides that are suited for treating your catalpa tree (if needed).

I live in Atlanta, and my Tulip Poplar is losing leaves already. Is this normal?

Sometimes a little bit of leaf loss is normal. Mainly because of stress due to possible drought conditions and the recent heat.

There are some tips for caring for your tulip poplar during these hot days of summer at

Is it normal for a tulip poplar to drip an excessive amount of sap in the spring — to the point where many leaves are wet?

Most of the time it isn’t. The excessive amount of sap may be due to insects feeding on your tree. Which can be more common when there is a wet spring, with more rain than usual, in a region. See to learn more.

See also:  Types of Bed Bugs - Common Bed Bug Types in the USA

My two-year-old tulip poplar tree has three lower limbs that do not have leaf buds. Should I cut them off?

As long as you’re sure that the branches are dead then yes, you can cut the limbs off. It is best to cut off any dead, diseased, or damaged branches when you find them.

Is the Tulip Poplar a «dirty» tree that’ll litter your lawn in the fall?

Yes, Tulip Poplar trees do tend to require a little more effort in the fall when cleaning up their leaves; they also drop their fruit.

Do deer eat tulip poplars?

Deer will feed on the leaves, small branches, and buds of tulip poplars, but will eat from other types of trees more often. Other animals, such as squirrels, will also eat the leaves, branches, and buds of a tulip poplar.

Due to this, it is important to protect young trees and prevent animals from damaging your tulip poplar.

Can you grow a Tulip Poplar from a fallen flower?

No. Instead, you can grow them from your tree’s seeds or from a sapling. has more information on how to grow a Tulip Poplar tree.

Can the tulip poplar live in Georgia clay soil?

It can, but you may need to «prep» the soil first. The pH of the soil should be between 4.5 and 7.5 with 6.6 to 7.5 being the optimal pH for a tulip poplar. If needed, a product called ClayMend (and similar products) can help to improve the pH of red clay soil. Along with it, you will also want to add compost. If you have any local tree nurseries or farms that sell trees, then they may be able to give you more details and plans on how to grow tulip poplars in your soil.

Is it normal that smaller branches die off each year up through the canopy?

It may or may not be normal depending on the amount of dead branches. Especially since tulip poplars are susceptible to certain diseases. If you have any concerns about your tree then you may want to have your tree looked at by a professional.

What animal would eat the bark from a poplar tulip tree?

There are a few animals that would eat the bark of the tulip poplar and other trees. You can find a list at which also includes how to spot which animal has been eating the bark on your tree(s).

One of my large Tulip Poplar recently fell onto another large tree beside it. When I checked further I noticed the bottom of the tree had significant rot. I had recently cleared a lot of kudzu from the same area the previous year. Any idea of how this rot began? Maybe due to the overgrown kudzu?

Kudzu can definitely cause damage to a tree that leads to rot. Not only is it known to smother out trees but the vines can also pull nutrients and moisture from a tree. Which can cause the wood to rot straight through the tree? The overgrown kudzu is the most likely culprit for what led to the rot on your tulip poplar.

When we had our 100+-year-old tulip poplar trimmed of lower branches recently, the climber noticed a very large cavity in the trunk. The cavity is about 3×1.5 feet in size and located in the center of the upper branches. Do we need to take this tree down or will it be safe to leave alone?

It does sound like your tulip poplar is damaged and may need to be taken down. You should get a second opinion though and have a tree professional in your area inspect your tree.

Is the tulip poplar susceptible to Verticillium wilt?

Short answer, yes. Tulip poplars are just one of the hundreds of trees and other plants that are susceptible to Verticillium wilt. You can read more at

I have about a 40-year-old Poplar/tulip tree next to my garage. I recently found that my shingles were eaten through at the rain grooves and the wood above my gutters is rotted or gone. Is there acidity in this tree or leaves that could cause this?

It’s possible that an accumulation of the sap from your tulip poplar caused the damage. You can read more about that and tulip tree scale at where it says the sap (aka honeydew) has been known to damage the exterior of vehicles. Which means it may also cause damage to shingles.

What is the use of tulip tree?

Tulip trees are useful for providing shade and for adding beauty and color to a yard. Their leaves change color into a brilliant yellow in autumn. A tulip tree is also known to attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

Can tulip poplars grow in calcareous soils?

Tulips poplars may not grow in calcareous soils due to their intolerance for chalky soils and soils that are rich in lime

When is the best time to trim or prune a tulip poplar?

It is best to do it in the fall after the tree has gone dormant. The two articles below give more details on when and how to trim tulip poplars.

When can I expect my Tulip Poplar’s leaves to come out this year?

It’s not easy to figure when leaves will start appearing on your Tulip Poplar, but you can estimate by seeing when buds begin appearing on the branches.


The Horse Chestnut Tree and Conkers: Facts and Uses

by Linda Crampton 40

Rainbow Eucalyptus: An Unusual Tree With a Multicoloured Trunk

by Linda Crampton 127

Interesting Facts About Oak Trees

by Nithya Venkat 38

Jackfruit Facts, Cacao Trees, and a Replacement for Cocoa

by Linda Crampton 52

Do Pentas Plants Have Medicinal Values?


Common Types of Oak Trees (With Bark Photos for Identification)

by Rachel Koski 8

The Strange Dragon Blood Tree of Socotra Island

by Linda Crampton 56

All About Palm Trees: A Photographic and Botanical Appreciation

by Will Apse 30


Ron Noble

In autumn, after the leaves have already fallen off the tree, is the best time. Here’s a useful guide on pruning your tulip poplar:


we have tulip tree planted from a sapling 2 years ago in southern Ontario, Canada. it is growing quite aggressively. Looks like a 4′ tall bush. Should some of the leaves be trimmed off and if so, when is the best time?

Ron Noble

Yes, it is possible to pollard a tulip poplar. The article at covers the subject.

Amy Bond

I have a tulip popular growing close to my house can i trim it and keep it small around 15 feet?

Copyright © 2020 HubPages Inc. and respective owners. Other product and company names shown may be trademarks of their respective owners. HubPages ® is a registered Service Mark of HubPages, Inc. HubPages and Hubbers (authors) may earn revenue on this page based on affiliate relationships and advertisements with partners including Amazon, Google, and others.

HubPages Inc, a part of Maven Inc.

Connect with us

About Us

Copyright © 2020 HubPages Inc. and respective owners.
HubPages Inc, a part of Maven Inc.

Facts about Copperhead Snakes

Copperhead snakes are a species of venomous snakes. Their bite is said to be quite painful. This AnimalSake article provides some interesting facts about these snakes.

Like it? Share it!

Copperhead snakes are a species of venomous snakes. Their bite is said to be quite painful. This AnimalSake article provides some interesting facts about these snakes.

Did You Know?

A political party of Democrats that existed during the American Civil War, who opposed the war and were fighting for peace, were given the nickname “Copperheads” by the Republicans, in comparison to the snake of the same name!

Copperhead snakes are venomous pit vipers that are found in North America. They are notorious for their numerous encounters with humans, which lead to snakebites. There are 5 subspecies that are currently known of. The following paragraphs provide some information about these reptiles.


  • Kingdom – Animalia
  • Phylum – Chordata
  • Class – Reptilia
  • Order – Squamata
  • Family – Viperidae
  • Genus – Agkistrodon
  • Species – Agkistrodon contortrix


Copperhead snakes quite logically get their name from their unmarked, copper-colored head. They have orange, light brown, or sometimes even pinkish bodies that are well-highlighted by darker, chestnut-brown bands that form a whole series of hourglass shapes across their bodies. The continuity and thickness of these bands are very important characteristics when it comes to identifying the five different subspecies.

See also:  Garden Guides, How to Identify Shrews, Moles & Voles

The belly markings range from gray to black splotches that are well-blended together to form a marbled, yet cloudy pattern. Copperheads are usually 2 to 3 feet (24 to 36 inches) in length, although there have been instances where people have come across copperheads that are even 4½ feet (54 inches) long. The females tend to be longer than their male counterparts, but the males generally have proportionally longer tails. Their bodies are stout and tend to taper abruptly towards the bottom, forming a tail that is much smaller in diameter. Baby copperheads have bright yellow tails and sometimes use these to attract prey.

Habitat and Distribution

Copperheads can thrive nearly anywhere, making their habitat very vast and varied. You’ll find them in rocky regions, sawdust and wood piles, wooded areas, mountains, abandoned farm buildings, bushy zones along creeks and streams, junkyards, brush piles, swamps, canyons, and even desert oases.

Distribution-wise, they are found throughout Central and Eastern United States right from Kansas to Connecticut and Western Texas to Florida. The five subspecies are distributed in the northern and northwestern to the southern and southwestern sub-regions of their geographic range.


Copperheads are generally solitary in nature except during the mating season. They tend to hibernate in communal dens, not only with other copperheads like themselves, but with other species of snakes as well. In fall and spring, they can also be seen during the day, but in summer, they are primarily nocturnal. Warm and humid nights like the ones after it rains are ideal times to catch a glimpse of an active copperhead.

Copperheads are pit vipers. Their facial pits are structures that are sensory in nature and are located somewhere between their eyes and nostrils. These facial pits are used to detect and then accurately strike a warm-blooded prey. They prey on different species of rodents, including mice and chipmunks. Apart from rodents, they also eat frogs, other snakes, lizards, insects, and even small birds. An individual copperhead may only eat anywhere from 10 to 12 meals per year.

Once they locate their prey by heat sensation and olfaction (sense of smell), they strike swiftly and inject it with venom. The venom then breaks down the blood cells, which quickly leads to circulatory collapse. The snakes then swallow the prey as a whole, relying entirely on their powerful digestive juices to break down its body parts.

Mating Season

Male copperheads fight for the right to mate with their females, and the ones who lose in the mating contest are not very likely to challenge another male copperhead again. Females, on the other hand, are also capable of fighting for their prospective mates and won’t mate with a male who backs down in the initial encounter.

The mating season starts somewhere in late spring or early fall. Ovulation and fertilization occur during the springtime. During fall, the female gives birth to 1 to 14 young ones near her hibernation den. Larger females give birth to more number of young ones. Young copperheads range from 8 to 10 inches in length.

Reports show that copperheads bite more people in the US than any other venomous snake in the country. The venom of these snakes is mild, and not fatal to an adult human. Pets and children may, however, have some very serious reactions to it.

The venom is hemolytic in nature. When a person is bitten, the red blood cells and tissues start breaking down because of it. This causes a lot of pain, swelling, nausea, and throbbing. Hence, although the venom is mild, a bite from a copperhead snake becomes a medical event.


Unlike other snakes that try to escape if they sense a threat, copperheads are known to freeze in one place. Also, unlike other species that give warning signs (such as rapidly moving the tail or opening the mouth), they are known to strike immediately. Thus, it is always better to keep a safe distance from these snakes, and if you happen to encounter one, let it leave if possible. As they attack without a warning at any perceived threat, they are quite dangerous.

Copperheads are usually found in places that camouflage them nicely and make them difficult to be seen. Thus, while clearing any piles of leaves or logs, be very vigilant and on the lookout for any snakes.

Other Interesting Facts

  • These snakes possess solenoglyphous fangs that are measure 0.3 inches in length. The length of the fangs is directly proportional to the length of the snake. So, the longer the snake, the longer will be its fangs.
  • Fangs are periodically replaced, with each copperhead having a series of anywhere between 5 to 7 replacements.
  • The average lifespan of these snakes in the wild is 18 years.
  • When touched, they will sometimes emit a musky odor that is very similar to the smell of cucumbers.
  • They lie in the sun at times and soak up some sunlight after a meal.
  • Copperhead babies have fully developed fangs that produce venom just like adults. The young ones also make use of their fangs to prey.
  • These snakes are also known as highland moccasins, clunk heads, pilot snakes, death adders, and poplar leaf among other names.

A Strange Myth

One recent and strange myth about these snakes is that of their interbreeding with black rat snakes to form a new and very venomous hybrid snake. This, however, is not biologically possible. This myth probably took shape because of the observation that black rat snakes and copperheads often share the same hibernation dens. However, there is indeed a very big difference between communal denning and reproduction!

Copperhead snakes are very beautiful-looking reptiles that have a reputation of having bitten a lot of people. However, it is a rule of the wild; animals do not normally attack unless they feel cornered or threatened. Hence, unless there is a direct threat to you, your home, or to another person from a copperhead, just let it pass if it happens to cross your path. Do not kill it unless you have no other option, because the snake is just going its own way. In case of a snakebite, always know what to do until the medics arrive, and keep all emergency numbers and essentials at hand should such an event occur.

Related Posts

Identifying snakes is a useful procedure, but it can be tricky. In reality, on a global average, snakes kill much less people in a year than those that are killed…

This Barbary lion was glorified in the ancient Roman scriptures. Considered to be the link between the African and Asian lion, human intervention has wiped out this magnificent predator from…

In many cultures, crickets are thought to bring good luck. It is also believed that crickets can tell the surrounding temperature.



Privacy Overview

Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.

Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.

No comments

Добавить комментарий

Your e-mail will not be published. All fields are required.