Tulip trees are one of the largest of the native trees of the eastern United States. They are known to reach the height of 60 m, with a trunk 3 m in diameter; and an ordinary height of 20 to 30 m. Tulip trees prefer deep, rich, and rather moist soil; The tulip tree bark is brown, and furrowed. The branchlets are smooth, and lustrous, initially reddish, maturing to dark gray, and finally brown. The wood is light yellow to brown, and the sapwood creamy white; light, soft, brittle, close, straight-grained.
Flowers: May. Perfect, solitary, terminal, greenish yellow, borne on stout peduncles, an inch and a half to two inches long, cup-shaped, erect, conspicuous. The bud is enclosed in a sheath of two triangular bracts which fall as the blossom opens.
Fruit: Narrow light brown cone, formed by many samara-like carpels which fall, leaving the axis persistent all winter.
Tulip trees prefer full sun with rich moist soil that drains well. The plant has a fleshy root system that doesn’t extend far out from the plant, so well worked soil is essential at planting. Caring for a tulip tree is relatively easy. Fertilize in early spring and watch for pests and disease. Stake young trees early on and train to one straight leader. Due to the rapid growth of this tree, pruning is essential. Prune out dead and weak growth in late winter to early spring and do a thorough thinning every few years.
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