The Violet Fern

A Colorful Tale of a Garden in the Making

Follow A Tree: Tulip Tree


I am joining in a good ol’ tree following hosted by Loose and Leafy on the 7th of each month. I love this idea! I have many young trees planted in my garden and by participating in this tree following, I hope to train myself to be extremely observant of all my “tree babies.” Let me give you a bit of background – for those of you who may not visit my blog regularly – I purchased a home in the wonderful village of Clayton along the St. Lawrence River. It is a small lot, but I consider it “large & lucky” as far as village lots go. When we (my husband and I) purchased this 1870’s home, we inherited a couple Hosta, a badly-in-need-of-rejuvenating Red Twig Dogwood, and a Barberry (since ripped out). I consider my “inheritance” a blank slate. I am a tree lover! AND I find it so ironic that I put down roots in a space without a tree. BUT of course, I have changed all THAT. I have planted a few trees on my plot – maybe not ideal choices, but all of those choices are based on my passion for trees and supporting wildlife, however naive I may be. That being said, it was extremely difficult to focus on just one tree for this participation. The Eastern White Pine put out its first and only pine cone last Fall. I have a young Red Maple, Pagoda Dogwood and Serviceberry that are special to me. My Pin Oak has really taken off and I love “him.” I think he’s a he, anyway. I narrowed down my choice to the TULIP TREE, Liriodendron tulipifera, because I want to really monitor this tree this year – I think it is in its “leap year.” The Tulip Tree was given to me by my Dad – it volunteered in his “woodsy” yard and I transplanted it into mine. It is approximately 3-4 yrs old.

Tulip Tree March 2014

Tulip Tree March 2014

Admittingly, a Tulip Tree is probably not the ideal choice for a closely knitted village lot, but well, it is a native tree and though you will not see in this post, the leaves are incredibly beautiful. So beautiful that I am going to save them for next month’s post, by which time I hope they will be unfurling in the warm sunshine! Why isn’t this tree ideal? One reason is that it grows extremely tall – up to 70-90′! In a village one should consider how far and damaging a tree may fall. Another reason is that it is known to shed its branches or lose them readily in storms and high winds – of which we have frequently around here. I have planted mine in the back of our yard where I hope fallen limbs don’t create any inconvenience for my neighbors and hopefully where, if the tree regrettably ever falls, it will not land on anyone’s residence. Okay, well that is only two cons. Let’s look at pros.


Tulip Tree bud ( please forgive the crappy focus, don’t quite have the hang of my new iPhone yet) – looking forward to these beautiful large leaves.

Pro: Incredible leaves! The leaves are large and distinctive, having four lobes in most cases and a cross-cut notched or straight apex (leaf edge/tip). Pro: Desirable habit! It is a stately tree with a pyramidal habit. Mature trunks may reach 4-6′ in diameter with an absence of lower branching and a straight habit. Pro: Tulip Trees grow fast – on an inherited lot without trees I consider this a plus. Pro: Flowers! Tulip Trees will develop a tulip-like flower as they mature – about 15 years of age. The flower is less noticeable as it is high in the tree. It will take a few more years for my tree to flower but keep watching this tree following to see it happen! Pro: Native host plant! And did I mention it is native to the Northeastern US? This is always a plus to me. In fact, the Tulip Tree is a host plant for the luscious Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly.

The Tulip Tree is said to be resistant to rabbits but I see mine have tried a bite or two (the b*st*rds!). I am not too concerned as the trunk is unmarred and it is only a couple of lower branches that have been nipped. (I’m much more concerned about my incredibly “sheared” Winterberry shrubs.)

Rabbit nips

Rabbit nips

Tulip Trees are hardy to Zones 4-9. I hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to tulipfera. Follow more trees at Loose and Leafy.


Author: Kathy Sturr

Cultivating art, growing soul, and creating plant-based food in the beautiful 1000 Islands, New York and Cedar Key, Old Florida.

15 thoughts on “Follow A Tree: Tulip Tree

  1. I hope it’s not in a place that it might fall on your house either! But it sounds a wonderful tree. I think there’s one in a park not far from where I live but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in flower. Looking at the flowers on Google image, they do look as if they ought to be growing from the ground or a small bush rather than on a grand tree. Funny, these contradictions. So glad you are joining us. Have added you and your blog to the list on the tree following page on on Loose and Leafy.

    • Thanks Lucy! I am sure it will be sometime before anyone needs to worry about the Tulip Tree. I will have to wait another ten years or so before my tree flowers – I am sure it will be worth the wait. I love this following you have created!

  2. Tulip trees are so pretty when in bloom. Looking forward to seeing the progress of your tree.

  3. What a great name for a tree! I do understand what you said about branches breaking off. I have a silver maple which the arborist trimmed this fall and said has a tendency to break limbs when it gets larger, but it is a good tree( that was my old gal)otherwise. We have a pin oak that shades half our front lot. She is a beauty. Yours is a he:-)Your dad gave you your tree, my dad gave me little trees, too. My parents don’t live near us, but I love to visit his place every year and see how his little trees( he calls them his little sticks he put in the ground-lol) are now towering over his place that he planted 15 yrs ago! I am a tree lover, too:-)

    • Yes, the neighbor has a large Silver Maple that occasionally drops a branch or two – a big one is in my yard that fell during the ice storm – it is snowed in and I haven’t been able to move it all winter. I don’t mind the branches because I like to make things with them! Aren’t Dads great?!

      • Yes, dads are great!!! I really feel blessed this year because a year ago my father was in a terrible car accident where he was the only one to survive. My parents live a few hours away from me, and last year he was driving with a friend to go out for chili( they were both early 80’s and good health), and another older man in his 80’s turned into them and my Dad’s friend that was driving was killed. The man that hit them was killed,too. My father was the only one to survive + it he should not of…I feel very blessed this year again because I am growing tomato, pepper, swiss chard and other vegetables for their garden this year…I am so blessed I have another garden season to spend with my father:-) We have to move his garden this year because his small “stick trees” he gathered on his hikes have shaded his yard too much-lol:-) Yes, Dads are a blessing!!

  4. What a great tree choice! I love your Tulip tree against the snow.

  5. Tulip Poplar is our state tree! (Tennessee) Beautiful when it blooms. The pioneers also used to use the wood to build with. He’ll sure be a handsome tree when he gets big. 🙂 We’re surrounded by woods and every once in awhile I’ll hear a big old branch fall from a tree in the woods….scares the life out of me. I try to keep the trees not to close to the house, but there’s an oak that has it’s home by where we park. Always scared when there’s a storm…the oaks younger and smaller sibling fell against our house a few years ago and did some damage to the roof. Just glad it wasn’t the big oak… would have crushed the house!

    • I remember reading the Tulip Tree was a state tree – thank you for reminding me which one. I know trees can be scary in a storm but I love them close to the house – the outline of the shadows of the limbs and leaves as the sun moves – all the activity – birds, squirrels. It’s worth a scare or two and there’s always redecorating to be done, isn’t there?

  6. Ahh, I recognise the signs of a fellow tree obsessive, and another who risks planting too many possibly too close for shear love. Tulip trees are beautiful, I will enjoy getting to know yours, and at least it will be a few years before you have to worry about fallen branches.

    • Oh yes, I am a tree lover and yes, I will have only shade over the years! I am prepared. I am also quite certain that I’ve over planted in spite of my own good advice – ha.

  7. I find the idea of a tulip tree fascinating!

  8. Wow this is a great tree and I look forward to your posts. My new trees are too young for much growth so I am sticking to my silver maple that has more room to grow now…lots of character and a fav of the birds.

  9. I love these Tulip Trees. We have a street here in Seattle lined with them and they’re all Huge! They make a great avenue of beauty. I wish you luck with yours. It’ll be a big tree for sure but it’s so beautiful as you say and the flowers are choice and delicious looking. Lovely description and your love of the trees shines thru this post. I’m a Tree Faerie myself so I totally get it. Thanks for writing this post.
    Happy tree growing! 😉

Thank you for joining me in the making of my garden!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s