Common names for this tree include "tuliptree" and "tulip-poplar" and even "yellow-poplar". This is not a true poplar tree (Populus), so the common names can be a bit confusing to some. It is a fast growing tree in my area, usually growing straight and tall as an arrow. Despite it's fast growth, the wood is strong. I wish more nurseries would sell this tree to homeowners looking for fast growing shade trees. The natural range for this tree in Georgia is widespread throughout the state, from top to bottom and even out to the maritime counties.
|View of flowers from the ground|
It is a member of the Magnolia family (Magnoliaceae) and close examination of the buds and flowers reveal the resemblance. There are only two individuals in the genus - our native one and one in China. Liriodendron tulipifera is considered the tallest hardwood in the eastern US, and the native range spans from Florida and Texas in the south all the way into southern New England and Canada and west to Iowa.
The tree is beneficial to wildlife in several ways. The flowers are rich in nectar and so are an excellent food source for its pollinators, including hummingbirds. It is the larval host plant for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) and others. In the fall, mature trees produce abundant papery seeds that are eaten by cardinals, other birds and squirrels.
Next time you're looking for a fast growing shade tree, consider Liriodendron tulipifera.
Reference: USDA Forest Service publication