American Tulip Tree

Liriodendron tulipifera

The American tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) is also known as the tulip poplar or yellow poplar. It is one of the largest native trees in eastern North America and has beautiful, large pale green or yellow flowers. It represents one of the more primitive flowering plants in existence today, along with the other Magnolias.



Liriodendron tulipifera has had many common names. While the most common name is the American Tulip Tree, it has all been called the Tulip Magnolia, the Tulip Poplar, the Yellow Poplar, the Tuliptree, and Whitewood. The common name of “poplar” is misleading; the tree is not a poplar (poplars are in the family Salicaceae and represent common species like the cottonwood tree).

Where is the American tulip tree found?

The American Tulip Tree is found mainly in the eastern United States in deciduous forests. It is found mostly east of the Mississippi River and as far south as northern Florida and as far north as southern Ontario. The following map was produced from a USGS map of the tree’s distribution.


Interesting facts:

  • In some areas of the Appalachian Mountains there are virgin cove forests where these trees can grow to more than 50 meters high.
  • Often there are no limbs until it reaches about 25-30 meters. Because of this, it is a very valuable timber tree.
  • The American tulip tree is the state tree of Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee.


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Written by Rob Nelson

Rob is an ecologist from the University of Hawaii. He is the co-creator and director of Untamed Science. His goal is to create videos and content that are entertaining, accurate, and educational. When he's not making science content, he races whitewater kayaks and works on Stone Age Man.

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