Tulip Poplar

Liriodendron tulipifera


Trail Location:
Common Name: Yellow Poplar
Scientific Name: Liriodendron tulipifera
Family: Magnoliaceae
Flower: Minimal

Tulip-poplar (yellow poplar) is a distinctive tree that grows straight and round. The bark is smooth and mouse gray in small trees, becoming rougher and more butternut brown as the tree grows larger. On all but the largest trees, the bark usually looks more like it was molded on the tree than split and cracked away as the tree grew.

The single characteristic that makes identification relatively easy is the presence of what looks like white to silver white chalk dust inside the channels and depressions of the bark. This silver-white dusting is consistent from bottom to top of the tree. Further identifying characteristics include clean, pruned trunks that may be very tall with a relatively small top, the tendency to grow in pure stands, and leftover seed-pods that look like small, peeled bananas standing upright on the ends of the upper branches.

The poplar tree is the tallest of the hardwoods in the Tennessee forest reaching heights of 100 - 150 ft.

The Tulip Poplar has been the state tree of Tennessee since 1947 as enacted by Public Chapter 204 of the Acts of the 75th General Assembly.  As the main lumber source used by the pioneers, it was selected because it grows from one end of the state to the other.