June 26

All About The Tulip Tree, The State Tree



Have you ever considered why the state tree is the Tulip Tree? It is one of the ordinary wonders of our parks and forests, with gorgeous flowers that bloom in the springtime. They are bright, easy-to-take-care-of trees that we think make and excellent addition to the right properties.

Why We Love Tulip Trees

  • Grows in Hardiness Zones 4–9
  • Grows at a fast rate
  • Blooms in May and June

Tulip trees are among our favorite trees because of just how quickly they grow and how beautiful they are. Homeowners are always looking for trees that will both grow quickly and also bloom. These trees will grow more than two feet in a year, according to the Arbor Day Foundation. They will also get their blooms fairly quickly.

Another reason we love this tree is because of how much wildlife it will bring to your yard. It naturally attracts hummingbirds, deer, rabbits, and more. It will also bring bees and other pollinators. If you like wildlife, you will love this tree.

Finally, these trees are actually pretty hardy for how beautiful they are, which is just another reason to love them.

The Beauty Of Tulip Trees

Credit: Wendy Cutler
  • Beautiful orange and yellow flowers in the spring
  • Leaves have a good fall showing
  • Interesting in late spring, early summer, mid fall, late fall

If you want a truly gorgeous tree, you need to look no further than Tulip Trees. They are stunning in all seasons. When the tree is young, they have smooth, gray bark with white, shallow fissures. As they age, they develop a gray-brown trunk with deeper fissures, according to the Morton Arboretum. The leaves are simple. They are 3 to 8 inches long with unique, 4-lobed, flat-topped ends. During most seasons, they are a glossy green color with a pale green underside. They will turn bright yellow in the fall.

Of course, then there are those flowers. About 2-inches tall, the flowers are a yellow-green with a distinctive red/orange band around the bottom of them. Interestingly, they also produce cones, which are slightly less noticeable.

Are There Any Problems With Tulip Trees?

Credit: Wendy Cutler
  • Some infestation problems
  • Younger trees have more problems
  • Should not be used near streets

The biggest problem with the tulip tree is that it tends to drop quite a lot of leaf, flower and cone litter. You will need to do some extra cleanup, but it will be worth it. If you don’t like animals in your yard, you may have problems there as well. Try to plant this tree away from gardens as it tends to attract deer and rabbits.

According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, “No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for aphids and scale. Potential diseases include verticillium wilt, mold, mildew and canker. Large aphid infestations result in honeydew secretions on the leaves that provide the growing medium for sooty mold. Trees are fast-growing and somewhat weak wooded, making them susceptible to limb breakage in high winds or from ice/snow. Shallow root system limits the types of plants that may be grown within the drip line.”

How To Care For Tulip Trees

Credit: 阿橋 HQ
  • Some thinning may be necessary
  • Can overtake other trees nearby
  • Prone to wind damage and ice damage

If you don’t carefully watch over your tulip tree within the first few years, you may have some issues. They grow fast so problems should become apparent very quickly, such as crooked growth, poor root systems, and generalized weakness. If you put a tulip tree into a mixed stand, it may overwhelm the other trees quickly and cause them to die.

Another problem is that the trees require moderate thinning every 8-10 years or so, according to the USDA. Occasionally, they will require other types of maintenance if they do contract a disease.

What Are The Different Types Of Tulip Trees?

  • Types vary based on the colors
  • Flowering times differ
  • Different shape of tree growth

There are actually a few different types of tulip trees out there. They will differ based on not only the color of the flowers, but when the flowers bloom. Some of the types grow in different shapes. You need to consider which ones will work better with your yard or business.

According to The Spruce, the different types of tulip trees are:

‘Arnold’: Has a narrow, columnar crown; may flower at an early age
‘Fastigatum’: Similar form to ‘Arnold’ but flowers at a later age
‘Florida Strain’: Blunt-lobed leaves, fast grower, flowers at an early age
‘Leucanthum’: Flowers white or nearly white
‘Mediopictum’: Variegated form with a yellow spot near the center of the leaf

What To Plant With Tulip Trees

Credit: kiwinz
  • Doesn’t always get along with other trees
  • Plant this tree first, then the other plants
  • Looks great when you can contrast it against darker plants

The good thing about tulip trees is that they are resilient and tough, so you can plant them with just about anything. They look great against trees of all colors throughout most of the year. In the fall, they will look great against evergreens or sweetgum trees, according to Monrovia.

Really, this is a tree that is going to steal the show, no matter what you do. Don’t try to add flowers to compete, or you won’t be able to make out anything special. You also may not want to use it around too much hardscaping, as the flowers will drop and need to be swept.

Contact Menchhofer Tree Care for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down – and of course, any seasonal problems that you might have with your trees. If you are having trouble making decisions about how to best care for your tree, we are here to help. Remember that acting sooner rather than later will help you to get the most out of your trees and keep your home safe.

Call us today at 317-661-4240.

Header photo courtesy of fdecomite on Flickr!

Menchhofer Tree Care

About Steve Menchhofer

Steve Menchhofer has been caring for the trees of the Indianapolis, Indiana metro area for over 40 years. Steve and his team of experienced, certified arborists are members of the International Society of Arboriculture and the Indiana Arborist Association.

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