Tulip tree, a surprising shade tree with tulip-like blooming!

Yellow tulip tree flower

Tulip trees are magnificent trees, famous for the quality of their leafage, especially in fall.

Tulip Tree facts,  a short list

NameLiriodendron tulipifera
FamilyMagnoliaceae or magnolia family
Type – tree

Height – 16 to 130 feet (15 to 40 meters)
Climate – temperate to warm
Exposure – full sun
Soil – ordinary to rich

Foliage – deciduous
Flowering – May-June-July, depending on the climate

They turn to marvelous hues, such as bright yellow, when the first colds arrive.

Planting tulip trees

It is recommended to plant tulip trees at the beginning of fall to allow for root development before winter.

If possible, add mulch at the base of the tree and water generously.

Pruning a tulip tree

No specific pruning is recommended.

  • Let it grow naturally, it will grace your garden with a beautiful silhouette!

Diseases, pests that attack the tulip tree

Tulip tree diseases

This tree, when healthy, will resist almost any pest. However, if ever it’s weakened due to poor growing conditions, it might be vulnerable to the following diseases.

  • Verticillium wilt – leaves wilt and branches die off. Nourish the tree with a high-nitrogen fertilizer in the hope of “outgrowing” the fungus over the course of a year.
  • Fusarium wilt – spots on leaves. Not fatal to the tree. Treat with Bordeaux mixture if infection is severe.
  • Canker – wounds appear on bark on branches and trunk. How to treat tree canker.
  • Powdery mildew – leaves are covered in whitish dust, especially in warm, moist weather.

Pests on tulip tree

As for pests, aphids are highly likely to appear at some point on your tulip tree.

  • Unless the tree is covered in them, you needn’t worry too much about them.
  • If they become too numerous, read up on how to deal with an aphid invasion.
  • Aphids in high numbers usually attract another fungus, sooty mold. Get rid of the aphids and this disease will go away.

Learn more about tulip trees

Tulip tree leaves and flowersTulip trees owe their name to the shape of their flowers.

  • Even though they belong to the magnolia family, they don’t quite reach the same beauty.
  • Flowering is more sparse and spread over time, so it doesn’t get that “all covered with blooms” effect.

Leaves, though, are wide and thick. They’re similar in shape to those of the plane tree, and are excellent to keep hot sun out as a shade tree.

In Europe, this tree goes by the name “Virginia tulip tree”, and with good cause: it is native to North America!

  • Specifically, the Appalachian mountain range is where the tree comes from.

Another interesting shade tree similar in size and bearing to the tulip tree is the Catalpa tree.

  • Interestingly, it also has flowers that look like those of a completely unrelated species: orchids!

Smart tip about the tulip tree

Although native to North America, many fossils of the tree can be found in Europe. This is because the tree actually became extinct over there during continental glacial eras. These occurred 65 million years ago, same time as the dinosaurs died off around the globe!

Tulip tree on social media

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Picture related to the article overlaid with the Instagram logo.

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Tulip tree flower by Gail Hampshire ★ under © CC BY 2.0
Tulip tree with leaves by Alex Lomas ★ under © CC BY 2.0
Flower of the tulip tree (on social media) by Onno Kalverda (Netherlands) ★ under Pixabay license