Author: Tom Brady
As I have mentioned in the past, this is an article that originally appeared in the Iowa Woodland Owners Association newsletter titled Timber Talk. I have a column where I feature non-native trees that are on the golf course.
The Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) is the taller species of hardwood in the Eastern forest with some specimens reaching over 150 feet in height. In their natural range, they grow as far west as Illinois and as far south as northern Florida. Because of this, location of seed source is important in attempting plantings outside their normal range. Other common names for this tree are Tulip Poplar and Yellow Poplar, but the tree is actually closely related to the magnolias.
Tulip trees are fast-growing and pyramid in growth habit. Their chief desirable characteristics are uniquely-shaped bright green leaves that look like a six-inch maple leaf with its tip cut off, leaving four lobes, its tulip-like flowers and its fall color.
In the fall, it turns a brilliant yellow color.
I’ve killed a lot of trees to get the two tulip trees to grow. One of which is now 12 to 15 feet high and is a beautiful specimen. No flowers yet, though.
I know of two large trees, one in Prairie City and one in Carlisle. I’ve tried growing from seed once with no success. According to my research, they produce very few good seeds.
There are at least three of these trees on the golf course. The easiest to spot is just short of number two green on the left.