Genus Liriodendron, L. (Tulip Tree)
Leaves - simple; alternate; edge lobed (lobes entire). Outline - rounded. Apex - cut almost squarely across, with a shallow hollow, giving a square look to the upper half of the leaf. Base - usually heart-shape. Leaf - three to five inches long and wide; very smooth; with four to six lobes (two lobes at the summit; at the sides two, or two large and two small). Bark - of trunk, dark ash-color and slightly rough. Flowers - four to six inches across, greenish-yellow, marked within with orange, somewhat tulip-like, fragrant solitary. May, June. Found - from Southwestern Vermont to Michigan, southward and westward. Its finest growth is in the valley of the lower Wabash River and along the western slopes of the Alleghany Mountains. General Information - Among the largest and most valuable of the North American Trees. It is usually seventy to one hundred feet high, often much higher, with a straight, clear trunk, that divides rather abruptly at the summit into coarse and straggling branches. The wood is light and soft, straight grained, and easily worked, with the heart wood light yellow or brown, and the thin sap wood nearly white. It is very widely and variously used - for construction, for interior finish, for shingles, in boat-building, for the panels of carriages, especially in the making of wooden pumps and wooden ware of different kings. I asked a carpenter: "Hope, is n't it the tulip wood (which you call poplar*) that the carriage-makers use for their panels?" "Yes, and the reason is, because it shapes so easily. If you take a panel and wet one side, and hold the other side to a hot stove-pipe, the piece will just hub the pipe. It's the best wood there is for panelling." "Of all the trees of North America with deciduous leaves, the tulip tree, next to the buttonwood, attains the amplest dimensions, while the perfect straightness and uniform diameter of its trunk for upwards of forty feet, the more regular disposition of its branches, and the greater richness of its foliage, give it a decided superiority over the buttonwood and entitle it to be considered as one of the most magnificent vegetables of the temperate zone." - Michaux. *The name should be dropped. The tree is not a poplar. The tulip tree was very highly esteemed by the ancients; so much so that in some of their festivals they are said to have honored it by pouring over its roots libations of wine.
Newhall, Charles S. The Trees of North-Eastern America (New York: The Knickerbocker Press, 1900) 99
Courtesy the private collection of Roy Winkelman