Liriodendron tulipifera - Linnaeus
Magnoliaceae (Magnolia) Family
Plant is one of the tallest trees in the eastern hardwood forests; long straight trunk, narrow crown that spreads with age and large showy flowers. Height is upwards to 120 feet with a trunk diameter of two to three feet. Its preferred habitat is moist, well-drained soils, valleys, slopes and flood plains. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region.
Leaves are long and wide. Blades are of unusual shape with broad, almost flat tip and base nearly straight (like a square); two short pointed paired lobes; long leaf stalks. Leaves turn yellow in autumn.
Flower are not easily seen as they nestle deep among the leaves and the color blends well with the surrounding foliage; matching almost exact. Petals are greenish-yellow and measure about 2-1/2 inches across; having a tinge of orange at the base, which sets off the filaments. Flowers occur in the spring.
Fruit is cone-like with overlapping scales that contain nut-like seeds.
The name Tulip Poplar refers to the shape of the leaf rather than the flower. The tree is know to form vast thickets which choke out other vegetation. But, because its wood is valuable in numerous ways you will never hear a complaint about its prolific growth -- furniture, light-weight crates, toys, musical instruments and pulpwood. Early settlers found it ideal for hollowing out logs for making light-weight and durable canoes.
The tree was introduced to Europe from settlers in Virginia and then later introduced to the West Coast during the migration and settling of the western territories. However, those folks saw it as an ornamental and continue to contain it today. On the Atlantic side of the country it may be found from Ontario to Vermont and Rhode Island; south to Florida and west to Louisiana, thence north to Michigan.