Tulip Tree identification

The Tulip Tree Liriodendron tulipifera, native to eastern North America, was introduced to Britain in the 17th century. It is named after its flower which resembles a tulip. It is a large ornamental tree, quite common in large gardens and parks.

Tulip Tree identification – 4-lobed leaf, large, tulip-like flower and brown fruit that stays on the tree all winter. It has an unusual 4-lobed leaf and a large beautiful flower in May/June. 

It is a member of the Magnolia family. Magnolia trees and shrubs are members of a very large genus containing between 120 and 230 species depending on the classification system used. The genus is named after the French botanist Pierre Magnol. It is an ancient genus with “primitive” flowers adapted for pollination by beetles. The petals, for example, are known as tepals because the sepals and petals are indistinguishable. This is a feature common to plants that appeared early on in the evolution of Flowering Plants. 

Tulip Tree  in May

A Tulip tree in May

Tulip Tree leaf

The leaf has 4 lobes

Tulip Tree flower in May

The tulip-like flower in May

Tulip Tree flower close-up

Close-up of the flower in May. The outer green ring are petals, the next inner yellow ring are the male anthers and in the centre are the female styles topped by brown stigmas.

Tulip Tree bark

The bark is ridged

Tulip Tree bud in winter

The buds are purple and flattened

Tulip Tree fruit in winter

The fruit sheds seeds throughout the winter. Photo taken in December. The fruit is technically an aggregate of samaras.

Tulip Tree fruit in winter

After the seeds have been shed this spike remains