Flower: Showy Yellow Flower with Orange Band Leaf: Good Fall Color (Yellow)
Tolerate: Black Walnut, Wet Soils and Deer
Native to: Jefferson County
The Tulip Poplar was once the tree of choice for America, the tree that defined the nation. Its stature was overthrown by the younger hipper trees with their brash hip ways. The Tulip Poplar should be considered for its outstanding qualities and returned to its prominence.
This large stately tree has fallen out of favor in the last one hundred years as more and more trees have become introduced from Asia and Europe; however, this tree should not be overlooked. The tree is long lived and sports a large cup-shaped flower with yellow petals and orange band at the base that resembles the shape of a tulip. Flowers often can go unnoticed as they appear after the leaves of the tree.
When Peter Collinson introduced the Tulip Poplar that John Bartram sent him to the London markets the tree was a sensation that swept through Europe. All of the gardens wanted this magnificent tree that has such great stoic features.
The Tulip Poplar is known as the tree that built America. Sons of Liberty groups used the tree as their symbol and the Liberty Tree in Boston was the most famous of all these trees. The Tulip Poplar became so synonymous with American Independence that British troops were order to destroy everyone they saw. Thomas Jefferson called the tree the “Juno of our Groves” and planted them readily. George Washington had the trees planted throughout Mount Vernon, some of which still stand today. Ben Franklin had them planted around Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Daniel Boone used a dugout 60-foot-long log from a Tulip Poplar to transport his family to the frontier of Kentucky.
The Tulip Poplar is a prized tree for bees as the nectar is produced in abundance. The honey produced from the nectar of the tree is darker in color and contains highly prized antioxidants.
The tree is a host plant for 17 species of butterflies and moths in the greater Jefferson County area including the stunning Tuliptree Silkmoth. Tulip Poplar attracts 19 genera of birds including hummingbirds, finches, orioles, waxwings, and grosbeaks. ■