The tulip poplar is one of the biggest softwoods in North America. It derives its name from the tulip-shaped leaves and flowers. It is native to the Midwest region of the US, mainly Illinois, but thrives in most growing zones. The tulip poplar is a deciduous tree that grows to 100 feet, depending on the soil and climate.
Easy to grow
The tulip poplar is a low-maintenance tree that does not need watering once it has established its roots. It is planted as a seedling that requires moist soil during the first six months. For best results, transplant in early spring when there is sufficient precipitation and sunlight.
It thrives in open spaces with direct sun exposure of at least 6 hours. It can also grow in shaded areas if it gets 4-6 hours of sunlight. It will do well in Zone 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. The tulip poplar prefers properly drained acidic soils with adequate moisture retention. However, it will still grow in alkaline soils with good drainage. The tree tolerates most insect and disease attacks, so you won’t need to use pesticides.
It is an elegant tree
The tulip poplar embellishes your property with its graceful goblet-shaped yellowish orange leaves with shades of green. Its bright green canopy livens up your compound during the summer months before giving way to a brilliant golden yellow tinge in the fall that lasts till the end of the season.
It is a large tree with a canopy of over 40 feet. This shade provides excellent cover when relaxing outdoors during the summer months. You can prune the lower branches up to seven feet to create space for outdoor furniture.
Due to its slight frame that grows upright without branching for several years, it can be used to form rows along paths and paved tracks. It has a rounded canopy makes it suitable for manicuring into elegant oval and pyramid shapes. The mature tree has a grayish-brown trunk with deep furrows that blend well with a green undergrowth.
The tulip poplar is popular with insect pollinators due to its enchanting bloom full of sweet nectar. Its seeds are loved by small mammals such as squirrels. The tree sheds plenty of leaves and petals, providing mulch and humus for grass species that thrive under its canopy. When planted in open spaces, it attracts deer and rabbits that feed on the leaves and grass that grows underneath.
The tulip poplar is an excellent source of lumber for construction because its large canopy requires regular pruning. The US Forest Service ranks it as one of the best softwoods with similar qualities to pine and spruce. You can use lumber for flooring your house, fencing, and constructing indoor and outdoor furniture. Its trunk produces elegant ornamental canoes and other carvings that you can use to embellish your property. Rows of popular plants act as windshields that protect your property from damage in extreme weather.