Monday, June 7, 2010

Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) - Part 1

Liriodendron tulipifera is known by the common names, Tuliptree, Tulip Magnolia, Tulip Poplar, Yellow Poplar, White Poplar, or Whitewood. It's a member of the family Magnoliaceae, the family to which the magnolia trees belong.

I’ve been fascinated by the Tulip Poplar for many years. I knew they grow on our place. In the Spring I’d sometimes see flowers that had fallen onto the path from our house to the creek, especially after a storm. The trees in the woods are probably at least 50 to 60 feet high so there was little chance that I’d be able to watch the development of flowers and seeds at our place.

Last Winter, I began to walk some of the trails in Fort Yargo State Park while the lake level was low. Along one of these trails I found a Tulip Poplar tree which had some branches that had bent and were growing down at shoulder height. I decided that I would document the development of flowers and seeds during the year on a weekly basis.

A bud (February 27th)

A bud, opening. The bud cover splits in two, longitudinally. (March 6th)

The bud cover folds back (March 14th)

Another layer of the bud folds back and the first leaf starts to unfold. This leaf is about 1/2 inch across. (March 20th)

A second leaf has unfolded a week later. (March 27th)

More leaves have grown during the next week. Each is about 3-4 inches across (April 2nd)

Another bud is exposed. The original leaves are about 6 to 8 inches across. (April 10th)

Little change occurred during the next week (April 17th)

The flowers have opened (April 23rd)

The flowers open wider (April 30th)

The flower tetals are decaying; the developing seedpod is visible (May 8th)

Liriodendron tulipifera
(Tulip Poplar) is native to the eastern United States. Its range extends from Vermont-Connecticut west to Michigan and south to Texas. In Canada it grows only in Ontario.

To be continued...
Click on an image to view a larger image

Distribution Map:

- United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database: Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip Poplar)

University of North Carolina Herbarium: Liriodendron tulipifera

Identification resources:
- Southeastern Flora: Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)

Native & Naturalized Plants of Georgia and the Carolinas: Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip Poplar)
Wikipedia: Liriodendron tulipifera

Related posts:

- 2010: Year Of The Wildflower


Yvonne Osborne said...

Beautiful! I've never seen one of these in Michigan. Maybe I'm a wee bit too north.

JSK said...

Glad you enjoyed it. I had fun documenting it too.
If you want to check whether you're too far north, click on the link to the USDA map, and then click on Michigan. A map of Michigan will display showing the counties in which the tree has been observed.
Good luck!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Stunning! I was entranced with the virtual unfolding. The miracle of life continues to amaze me.

Jade L Blackwater said...

Excellent photo series! I've never had the chance to photograph a tulip poplar whose lowest branches weren't high off the ground.

Thank you so much for these revealing close-ups.

Elizabeth said...

Stunning photos. I love the sequence from budding to decay.

JSK said...

I have to say that it seemed to go on and on. Every time I thought I was going to see the flower, it was another cover. Talk about being well protected. It is amazing. I'm glad I had the opportunity to finally see it and be able to share.

Georgia said...

Wonderful photo sequence of one of my favorite trees. Found your blog via FOTT 49.

JSK said...

Glad you enjoyed it. It was fun and educational to put together.

Suzi Smith said...

Gorgeous!! I've got some poplar pics to go up sometime.... seems i've been photographing & not posting lately!!

JSK said...

Hi Suzi. Glad you enjoyed them. I'll look forward to seeing yours. I'm still tracking my tree on a weekly basis until the seedpods mature.