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.
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 ordered to destroy every one 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 tree is a host plant for 17 species of butterflies and moths in the greater Jefferson County area including the stunning Tulip Tree Silkmoth. Tulip Poplar attracts 19 genera of birds including hummingbirds, finches, orioles, waxwings, and grosbeaks.