Yellow Poplar

Yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) is also known as the tuliptree, tulip magnolia, and whitewood. It is not actually a poplar, as it is in the magnolia family. The flowers resemble tulips, hence the common name tuliptree.

yellow poplar tree
Yellow Poplar Tree, Photo by Bonsak Hammeraas, Bioforsk - Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research,

Hardiness: Zones 1 through 6

Growth Rate: Fast

Mature Shape: Narrow to rounded

Height: Mature size varies with species, ranging from 50 feet to 100 feet.

Width: Varies with species.

Site Requirements: Native to North America, aspen trees grow naturally in moist sites and full sun.

Flowering Dates: April - June

Seed Dispersal Dates: October - November

Seed Bearing Age: 15-20 years

Seed Bearing Frequency: 35-40 years

Seed Stratification: Prechill 2 to 3 months at 34°F to 40°F

yellow poplar leaves
Yellow Poplar Leaves - Photo by Paul Wray, Iowa State University,

It is one of the largest hardwoods in North America; a deciduous tree that can attain a height of 80 to 100 feet (maximum 200 feet), and a trunk diameter of 2 to 6 feet (maximum 8 to 12 feet).  The leaves have a unique distinctive square shape, alternate, simple, 4 to 6 inches wide, dark green on top and paler beneath, and petioles are 3 to 6 inches long.  The leaves turn a beautiful vibrant orange-yellow in the fall.

The flowers have 6 green-yellow tepals with an orange base, and surrounded by leave – blooming in late May or June.

The twigs are thick; light reddish-brown, with an aromatic odor, and cone shaped fruit clusters that remain on the branches.

It grows best in deep, rich, moist soil; found in bottomlands and rocky mountain slopes. Yellow Poplar ranges from Massachusetts to southern Michigan, south to northern Florida and Louisiana. The wood is used commercially for furniture, musical instruments, and interior finishes. It is planted widely as an ornamental and shade tree, and bees will utilize the blossoms for making honey.

Diseases that Can Affect Yellow Poplar

Insects that Can Affect Yellow Poplar

yellow poplar white and red flower
Yellow Poplar Flowers - Photo by Paul Wray, Iowa State University

yellow poplar trunk showing bark
Yellow Poplar Bark - Photo by Charles T, Bryson, USDA Agricultural Research Service,

yellow poplar fruit
Yellow Poplar Fruit - Photo by Paul Wray, Iowa State University,