Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 27 >> Tropical Forests to Twelfth Century >> Tulip Tree


base, leaves, yellow and bark

TULIP-TREE, one of the handsomest and largest deciduous trees (Liriodendron tulipi fera) in America, attaining its greatest dimen sions in the Middle States, in deep, moist, loamy soils. It is remarkable for its absolutely straight, massive trunk, sometimes tapering from a base, 20 to 25 feet in girth, to a height of 150 feet. The bark is regularly ridged, but is of fine texture and ashen-hued. That of saplings is very smooth, grayish-green and mottled with gray. A tree grown in the open is of a symmetrical, pyramidal or spindle-like outline, with many diverging and upward sweeping branches. The foliage is very glossy and bright green, the leaves peculiar in form, being nearly square, and three-lobed, the lateral lobes rounded at the base, the central one hav ing a broadly-triangular notch taken out of its apex. They turn to a clear yellow in autumn, and the leaves, trembling on long petioles, have caused this tree to be confounded with the pop lars, in popular nomenclature. When very young, the blade is bent down against its stem and is covered by two membranous boat shaped stipules, which unite about the bud and do not separate and fall away until the tender leaf is able to endure the weather.

The tulip-tree is one of the magnolia fam ily, and in June is covered with handsome flowers, which have suggested the generic name, meaning "lily-tree; but the vernacular term seems more apt, since the six petals have the flaring, cup shape of .the tulip. They are

solitary, terminating the branchlets, and are yellowish-green outside, lined with orange, with a suggestion of a green star at the base. A ling of stamens stands inside, surrounding the column of carpels. The fruits persisting long after the leaves have fallen, are like long sa maras, hung by slender stalks, on the cone shaped receptacle, and overlap it like inverted shingles. During the winter they are torn away and drift hither and thither.

The heartwood is classed among light woods, is easily worked, has a compact fine grain, and takes a high polish; when perfectly seasoned, it is durable and resists insects' at tacks, but is likely to warp and shrink if not well dried. The color may be either white or yellow, and the wood is known as white or yel low poplar, the latter variety being the better. At one time used greatly for house-building, furniture, wooden utensils and many other purposes, on account of its lightness and strength, it is also valuable for carriage panels. Indians were said to have wrought it into long canoes, so regular and light were the trunks. An infusion of the bark when added to an equal quality of dogwood is reckoned as a remedy for intermittent fevers, when alone as a substitute for cinchona and as a gentle cathartic. Many fossil species have been found, repre sentatives of the Liriodendron type, of which it alone survives.