yellow-poplar, tulip-poplar, whitewood

Liriodendron tulipifera Linnaeus

Tulip tree
is one of our most distinctive and attractive trees. It is native from Saratoga and Rensselaer Counties westward along Lake Ontario to Lake Erie, and becomes more abundant southward in deep, rich, moist soils. Its large tulip-like, greenish yellow flowers have given rise to the name "tulip tree." The wood is light, soft, brittle, not strong, straight-grained, light yellow or brown in color, and is largely made into lumber and interior finish and used where a soft, easily worked wood is required. Veneer of yellow-poplar is highly prized in airplane construction.

Bark - on young trees, smooth, ashy gray or brown in color; on older trunks, light gray to brown, thick, distinctly and regularly furrowed and ridged.

Twigs - smooth, shiny, rather stout, reddish brown in color, often branching the first year, aromatic odor, very bitter taste.

Winter buds - terminal bud smooth, flattened, about 1/4 inch long, simple, blunt, covered by 2 reddish brown bud scales giving the appearance of a mitten; lateral buds similar but much smaller.

Leaves - alternate, simple, 4 to 6 inches long, almost square in outline, usually 3- or 4-lobed with truncate tip; the most distinctive and unusual leaf of any of our native forest trees.

Fruit - a cone, light brown in color, upright, pointed, 2 to 3 inches long. Seeds - long winged, ripening in September, and for the most part falling soon after; outer ring of winged seeds may stay on the tree into the next season.

Distinguishing features - unusual leaf, with "cut-off " tip; bitter taste, aromatic odor of twigs; mitten-like terminal bud.

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