Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

This week we focus on a very large ornamental tree remembered by those familiar with it by the name identifiable with the flower. Translated from the Latin name, Liriodendron tulipifera, means ‘lily tree bearing tulips’. The flowers will not bear until the tree has reached its mid to late teens. When it reaches adolescence the trees flower in abundance particularly if they are planted as an individual.

The cup shaped flowers are a greenish yellow with dashes of red and an orange flare at the base. They are approximately 3-10cm in diameter and strikingly similar in shape to a tulip distinguished by their size and more obviously location. 

Photo credit: Paul Hunter

This tree is a member of the magnolia family and is the largest American hardwood. It is a deciduous giant reaching up to 35-40m in height. It is equally fast growing especially when young. When growing conditions are correct it can grow around one metre a year.

It is grown in the UK for its unique form and proportions of both its leaf and flower. In its native America, its scale and speed of growth have given it many uses. Commonly specified by American architects for its greenish heartwood in interiors. The wood is also strong and has no odour. Because of this, it is used to line wells, in food packaging and the pulp makes high quality book paper. The wood also tends to grow straight so was used historically for dugout canoes. 

Asides all the qualities noted, we highlight it for its very alluring autumn colour. We think the colour really makes the unusual sheen and shape of the leaf more attractive and noticeable.

Photo credit: Paul Hunter

Where to find it??

Because of the plants’ tolerance of wind, suitability to a variety of soil types and pollution, it is the ideal urban tree. A beautiful tree that we are very proud to have settling in very happily at C.S. Lewis Square.

Be Part of it…

The leaves have probably disappeared but we would be keen to see if you can still spot the tree. Keep an eye on it as it matures and be the first to spot a flower!

Of course send us your pictures and requests for plant information.