Saturday, January 17, 2009

YELLOW-POPLAR - Liriodendron tulipifera, Linn

TULIP POPLAR AND TULIP TREE are other names for yellow-poplar. Tulip-like, greenish-yellow and orange flowers account for these names, and even the leaf looks somewhat like a cross-section drawing of a tulip. Actually, the tree is not a poplar at all but rather a member of the magnolia family. In Missouri it is native only to the counties in the southeast corner of the state. However, it has been widely planted as an ornamental. On good soils in the Appalachian Mountains it attains its best growth. Growing to a maximum height of 200 feet and 6 feet in diameter, it is the tallest of the hardwood trees. Yellow-poplar will not grow in the shade.

The leaf is alternate, borne simply on long, slender stems with four main lobes. The upper two lobes form a notch. This distinctive shape is shared by no other tree. The surface is dark yellow-green and smooth, while the under-surface is pale.The fruit is a cone-like cluster of winged, angled seeds. The flower is very showy and attractive. It is two inches across, greenish-yellow, orange and waxy.

The twigs are dark red or brown, moderately stout and often contain a powdery frost-like bloom. They often are smooth and turn shiny with age. The buds are flattened like a miniature duck's bill and valve-like with two large scales.

On good soil it is a fast growing tree, has excellent form and is disease resistant. The wood of younger trees is light yellow in color. On old trees the heartwood becomes greenish in color. It makes excellent lumber and is easy to work and fasten. It is used for furniture, interior finish, boxes, crates and veneer. It is one of our most valuable trees.

Precautions should be taken to protect the tender young bark of ornamental trees since it is subject to sunscald. Cloth or burlap can be wrapped around the main stem to protect it from the direct rays of the sun for the first few years.

The yellow-poplar scale is an insect which attaches itself in large numbers to tender young twigs, removing sap from a small area, forming small breaks in the bark. This insect can become serious since the infested twigs eventually die.

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