University of Tennessee
Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
Our Center Home Page Arboretum Home Page Contact

Featured Plant Of The Month

There is always something in bloom at the Arboretum! Use our Plants Library to plan a photo shoot or to choose one of the trails to walk. Learn more about the plants at the Arboretum by visiting our Previously Featured Plants list and our Special Seasonal Featured Plants page.


Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)

Tulip Poplar Flowers Tulip Poplar (also called Yellow Poplar) is the Tennessee state tree and a prominent member of the Arboretumís deciduous forest. A member of the Magnolia Family, it is found throughout Eastern North America, from southwestern Ontario and Michigan, south to Louisiana and Florida. It is one of the largest native trees in U.S. eastern forests, growing to heights of 80 to 150 ft and is recognized by its tall straight trunks, its tulip-shaped flowers, and its distinctive 4-lobed, shiny green leaves that are pale underneath.

The thick bark of mature trees is deeply furrowed with narrow, rounded ridges. In May, the upright yellow-green, tulip-shaped flowers with a deep orange band near the base are found high in the tree canopy.


Tulip Poplar Leaves Tulip Poplar Bark

The light, brittle wood of Tulip Polar is used for furniture, plywood, oriented strand board (OSB), and pulpwood. Native Americans used the trunks to make dugout canoes. Tulip Poplarís rapid growth and high commercial value for lumber make it suitable for reforestation.

After periods of above-average rainfall followed by dry conditions, such as we have had in 2017, Tulip Poplars may undergo premature leaf-yellowing and leaf drop. Prolonged periods of such conditions may result in the death of the trees. Recently, two large yellow poplar trees near the Arboretumís Program Shelter died from such effects and have been removed.


Return to Arboretum Home Page

University of Tennessee - Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
901 South Illinois Avenue, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37830 · Telephone: 865-483-3571 · Email: UTforest@utk.edu