Wildflowers & Trees Of Appalachia

Did You Know Tulips Grow In Trees?


The Tulip Poplar-sometimes called the Tulip Tree or Yellow Poplar grows throughout the Eastern portion of North America-from Ontario to Florida. The Tulip Poplar is one of the largest trees native to Appalachia-it can grow to staggering heights well over 100 feet and has been known to grow in circumferences up to 20 feet. The tree typically blooms in May-but the lovely blooms are often hard to see due to the tree’s height.

The Tulip flowers that grow on the tree-are a prime source of honey-and the wood is used in most any application you can think of. As you can see from the pics-Tulip Poplars grow around my mountain holler-but none of the  old giants seemed to have survived my Papaw’s chainsaw.

Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is in Graham County NC, and it’s a wonderful place to view some of the remaining Giant Tulip Poplars.

By googling around, I discovered George Washington had a particular fondness for Tulip Poplars. The book America’s Famous and Historic Trees tells the story of Washington’s love of farming-of how he landscaped the grounds of Mount Vernon. Since Tulip Poplars were among Washington’s favorite trees-he made sure to plant them at Mount Vernon. Today-those Tulip Poplars are well over 100 feet tall. The writer of the book America’s Famous and Historic Trees details the process of growing direct descendants of Washington’s Tulip Poplar trees-it involved a cherry picker.

So did you know Tulips grew in trees?




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  • Reply
    Melissa Watkins
    May 31, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    We have one here on long island.A very beautiful tree

  • Reply
    July 20, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    I’d heard of the tulip tree but had no idea it what it looked like. Can you get any more beautiful and so majestic.

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    June 23, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    It’s also the state tree of Tennessee. The pioneers & early settlers used the wood for furniture especially. The trees were so big/wide….the wood was great for cupboards, blanket chest (LOVE a 6 board blanket chest!), pie safes, etc. A collector will prefer walnut or cherry probably, but tulip polar is absolutely true to our heritage.

  • Reply
    June 22, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    WOW! Those are some big trees! Love them!!!
    We have tulip trees here, but I don’t think they are the same as the tulip poplar.
    So, no, I guess I didn’t know tulips grew in trees. tee hee

  • Reply
    June 19, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    These trees are so amazing and beautiful; but alas I’ve never seen one in Florida.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    June 18, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    I’m always moved by your pictures from the natural world around you, Tipper. The photo of the tulip tree flower is wonderful. The Tulip tree is a wonder of nature and, among God’s awesome creations, He surely smiles when he passes one.
    The Tulip Tree is Indiana’s state tree. They are more abundant in Southern Indiana but we have some here in the North.
    Thank you for this beautiful post.

  • Reply
    trisha too
    June 18, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Beautiful trees. We have them around here, but not in my yard.

  • Reply
    June 18, 2010 at 11:15 am

    The bees I keep on my property make primarily tulip poplar honey (I think). The ones in your pic are huge though…I don’t think we have any that big but they are everywhere here! And the honey is awesome!

  • Reply
    June 17, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    I can’t believe how big those trees get! We don’t see them much around here.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    How pretty is that! I think we have the tulip poplars here in Arkanas. I found you through another blog and I’m really going to enjoy your posts! Come by Granny Mountain for a visit when you have the time…

  • Reply
    June 17, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    I love tulip trees…we have several on the farm! I love the colors…nature sure knows how to do it right!
    (Sorry for not commenting more often…I’ve been by, but have just been a quiet mouse!)

  • Reply
    June 17, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    No, I didn’t know tulips can grow on trees! On one of my trips to Holland, I purchased some kind of tulip seeds including the rare black tulip. As I was instructed, I planted them in pots in autumn and by the end of April they had already grown into lovely tulips. But, due to our long, hot summer they didn’t last for long.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 17, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Yes, I know the tulip Poplar and have seen the magnificent trees in the Joyce Kilmer forest.
    I cannot describe the feeling when standing beside those giant trees in the JK Forest. I was very small beside them!!

  • Reply
    June 17, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Love seeing the Tulip Poplars, Twitter…. I grew up with them–and have seen them in this area all of my life… BUT—I never saw one in Texas or Florida!!!!!

  • Reply
    Grace Willard
    June 17, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    When I was a kid I heard a story about how the leaves where used to make mittens for a Native American princess…
    I live in Seattle now day and due to the mid climate have a lot of non-native species – including poplar! No one here calls them tulip trees though.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    I don’t have any of those around here, but they sure are pretty! Thank you sharing the pictures!

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    June 17, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    We have many tulip poplars in our woods and it seemed this year they had more flowers then normal.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Tipper, I have many poplar trees in my mountain hollar too. There
    is a huge one over 100 feet tall
    near my front porch and it must be
    a tulip poplar cause its full of those yellowish flowers. I like to
    sit on the front, just me and the other dogs, and watch the bees at
    work. I also have a cucumber tree
    (that’s what daddy called it) and
    big white flowers were on it earlier. Much later it will have
    long, red bulbs hanging from it
    just like closed pine combs. Ken

  • Reply
    Eva M. Wike, Ph.D.
    June 17, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Hey Tipper: BEAUTIFUL! We had THREE GIANT Tulip trees which Daddy planted many years ago in our cow pasture. As a young girl,in the summer time, I would lie on a spread under one of those trees, reading “True Romance” and wondering where on Earth I would go when I left the Cove. Mama never knew we were reading those dreadful magazines.
    Last year while hiking in THE GREAT SMOKEY MOUNTAINS we came to THE LARGEST POPULAR in the Smokies. I was able to measure the circumference – with the help of anothere hiker. The tree had a circumference of 28 feet. It had long since lost it’s TOP! On the top was a totally high forest of small plants growing like they were on the forest floor. FANTASTIC!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    June 17, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    We do have tulip poplars here in northern appalachia, but the flowers are a pinkish-lilac color, I’ve never seen one with that gorgeous yellow and orange combo. There seem to be fewer of them around these days,too bad, it’s a stunning sight when they’re in full bloom!

  • Reply
    Amy - parkcitygirl
    June 17, 2010 at 11:47 am

    I had no idea! Such pretty trees & pictures 🙂

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    June 17, 2010 at 10:45 am

    They really are beautiful exotic-looking flowers! And wonderful, massive trees, too! If one had to choose a tree to hug, a tulip poplar would be a good choice.

  • Reply
    John Dilbeck
    June 17, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Good morning, Tipper.
    I did, indeed, know that tulips grow on trees.
    I love all those giant trees at Joyce Kilmer National Forest. It’s been a long time since I went there and I’m going back this summer. Dena and I talk about it when we drive east on medical trips, and I’m going to schedule a visit to the forest. Thanks for reminding me and for linking to that video.
    Back when I lived in a tipi, I made the poles out of small poplar trees.
    Poplar is also a good wood for carving.
    All the best,

  • Reply
    June 17, 2010 at 10:05 am

    What a beautiful tree. We have what is called a tulip tree that has purple flowers,but pales in comparison to the size of that one. Can’t imagine anyone cutting one of these old giants.

  • Reply
    My Carolina Kitchen
    June 17, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Tipper, I love tulip poplar trees. They are so pretty and if you’re looking for a fast growing tree, there’s none better for some quick shade.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Tipper! What a beautiful tree. I would love to have one in my backyard. Tulips are my favorite flowers. The tulip tree is now a candidate for my favorite tree! Thanks for sharing. I hope your Summer days are being filled with lots of sunshine, enough rain to grow the garden, and countless memories! Hugs,

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