The Blooming Poplar

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The tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera, is one of the largest of the native hardwood trees of the eastern United States, known to reach the height of 190 feet. Common names are confusing and include yellow-poplar and fiddletree but this tree is not related to either poplars or tulips. The genus Liriodendron in the magnolia family. It is fast-growing and a valuable hardwood species. The alternate leaves are simple and pinnately veined.

The perfect large brilliant flowers are solitary, greenish yellow with dashes of red or orange. They yield large quantities of nectar. Each inflorescence is borne on a short peduncle with flower parts arranged in a spiral which is a condition of basal angiosperms. The flower parts not distinctly differentiated into sepals and petals. The male and female portions of the flower are numerous. The stamen filaments are distinguishable from the pollen-producing anthers. The tree’s flower superficially resembles a tulip, hence the derivation of the common name.

Tulip trees grows readily from seeds. If seeds are planted in autumn they come up the succeeding spring. However, if sown in spring they often remain a year in the ground. It is reported that seeds from the highest branches of old trees are most likely to germinate. Alternatively, the tree can be propagated from cuttings. It prefers deep, rich, moist soils.

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