The tulip poplar tree, also known as the tulip tree, tulip magnolia, yellow poplar and whitewood, is not really a poplar. The tulip poplar tree belongs to the magnolia family. It grows on average 80 to 150 feet tall, begins to flower in the spring, and prefers a soil pH of 4.5 to 7.5.
The tulip poplar tree leaf is pale on the bottom (sometimes with a white waxy coating called a bloom) and dark green on top. The leaf shape has two to four lobes that are symmetrical. In the fall, tulip poplar tree leaves change color, turning yellow.
When young, tulip poplar tree bark is light gray with shallow, white vertical furrows. As the tree ages the bark becomes thicker with deep furrows that interconnect. Tulip poplar tree twigs are smooth, and greenish to red brown.
Tulip poplar tree flowers look similar to tulips, and are pale green-yellow. Tulip poplar tree flowers bloom spring to summer, beginning in April and ending in June.
Tulip poplar trees reproduce using clusters of cone-shaped fruit. For every pound of fruit there are approximately 12,000 seeds.
Tulip poplar trees are used as an ornamental, and for shade and street lining. The wood is used for pulpwood, cabinetry and veneers. Tulip poplar trees are also used by animals as a source of food and shelter.