Indiana State Tree is Popular Landscape Choice - Indiana Yard and Garden - Purdue Consumer Horticulture

Indiana State Tree is Popular Landscape Choice

(Released: 21 November 1996)

By B. Rosie Lerner
Extension Consumer Horticulture Specialist

If you’ve ever had to work on a tree leaf collection, you no doubt included a leaf from the Indiana state tree among your samples. Also known as tulip poplar and yellow poplar, the tuliptree is actually not a poplar at all, but a member of the magnolia family known botanically as Liriodendron tulipifera.

Native to most of the eastern half of the United States, the tuliptree prefers rich, moist, well-drained, loamy soil. It is found throughout Indiana, but is more prevalent in the southern two-thirds of the state.

The unusual flowers were the inspiration for the common name; they’re shaped much like a tulip with greenish-yellow petals blushed with orange on the inside. Because they generally are found high in the leaf canopy, the flowers often go unnoticed until they drop off after pollination. The leaves of this tree are also quite distinct, with a large, v-shaped notch at the tip.

Because it transplants easily and grows fast, tuliptree is a popular choice for planting in the home yard. But don’t be fooled by its small size in the nursery. Give it plenty of room in your landscape plan. The tuliptree can reach as tall as 190 feet where it’s allowed to thrive, but it is more likely to reach 70 feet in height as a mature landscape specimen.

Tuliptree is not without its share of pests and diseases. Among the most common are leaf spots, cankers, scale insects and aphids. In midsummer, tuliptrees in Indiana often develop black spots followed by a yellowing of the foliage thought to be related to heat and drought stress. Aphids suck plant sap from the leaves, but their damage is mostly cosmetic because they secrete a sticky honeydew that then develops a black sooty mold, lending a dirty appearance in midsummer.

But despite all of these problems, the tuliptree continues to endure and endear, as demonstrated by its wide availability in nearly every garden-center nursery. Given appropriate water and fertilizer, the tuliptree can be a beautiful asset to your home landscape.

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