- The flowers that emerge on the tulip poplar can be 2 inches wide and 2 inches long. They are very large for a native tree, as evidenced by the fact that in states such as Ohio, they are the biggest flower on any of the native species, notes the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Composed of six petals and three sepals, the flowers are yellow-orange on the interior, but a green-yellow shade on the outside. Their cup shape causes them to resemble tulips, according to the “National Audubon Society Field Guide to Trees: Eastern Region.”
- The location of the tulip poplar dictates its blooming season, reports the National Forest Service. In southern locations where the tree grows native, including states like Georgia and Florida, the tulip poplar blooms as early as April. In the cooler regions where it is a native species, including parts of the Northeast, tulip poplars bloom as late as June and even the first weeks of July. Weather also plays a factor in the blooming process, with warmer weather more conducive to the flowers opening.
Hard to View
- Despite the beauty and stature of the tulip poplar’s flowers, they are not a major ornamental feature because they typically develop high up in the canopy. On a species that routinely approaches 100 feet tall and often higher, this puts them so far above the ground that they are nearly impossible to spot. Another problem in seeing the flowers is that the foliage, which has a silhouette reminiscent of a tulip, grow in before the flowers open. The leaves can be as wide as 8 inches, easily big enough to obscure the flowers from view. In many cases, the only indication that a tulip poplar bloomed are the many colorful petals that accumulate beneath the tree, states the Missouri Botanical Garden.
More Information on the Flowers
- Tulip poplars usually begin to produce flowers when they reach the age of 20. The tree can continue to generate flowers each year for as long as 200 years. The tree remains in bloom for a span of two to six weeks, depending upon such factors as the weather, the age of the tulip poplar and its size. Smaller cultivars of the tulip poplar, such as Ardis, are suitable for smaller landscapes, with their flowers more accessible due to the reduced height of the tree.