The Violet Fern

Creating Art & Gardens


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.