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Tulip Poplar: Indiana State Tree Facts & Figures


Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron Tulipifera), also called yellow polar, tulip tree, or canoe tree because Native Americans used it to make dugout canoes. No less of a woodsman than Daniel Boone chose such a canoe to carry his own family from Kentucky to the western frontier. And, George Washington admired this tree as well, with a giant he planted in 1785 being selected as Mount Vernon’s official Bicentennial Tree.

Tuliptree is one of the most common trees (the Birches as a group are another) that serve as “drought indicators” by dropping their yellowing interior leaves when their soil becomes too dry during summer drought. This is simply how they cope with drought, by cutting down on the number of transpiring “water leaks.”

The soft, fine-grained wood of tulip trees is known as “poplar” (short for “yellow poplar”) in the U.S., but marketed abroad as “American tulipwood” or by other names. It is very widely used where a cheap, easy-to work and stable wood is needed. Tulip poplars can be found throughout the state of Indiana and Easter US in deciduous woods.

We’ve put together several fun facts about the tulip poplar below. You can also see the infographic below or view it directly here.

Medicinal Use

Tulip-poplar’s bark was used medicinally in the late 1800’s as a tonic for treating rheumatism and dyspepsia, and also as a heart stimulant. The bark contains ‘tulipiferine,’ which is said to have powerful effects on the heart and nervous system

Tree Size

Tulip poplars are a fast growing tree and can reach 150 feet or more in the forest. The Kentucky Champion tree is in Beaver Creek, McCreary county. It is 168 feet tall.

It typically grows to 70-90 feet tall with 35-50 foot spread in cultivation.

Flower and Fruit

Orange and green, tulip-shaped flowers appear in May and June. Upright samaras are arranged in a tight spiral that opens when ripe.


Tulip poplars have uniquely shaped, bright green leaves. They can range from 3-8 inches long and wide. Their fall color is yellow or golden yellow.

State Tree

The tulip poplar is the official State Tree of Indiana. It was designated the official state tree in 1931 (Tennessee and Kentucky also recognize the tulip polar as their official tree symbol). The Indiana state seal’s border has the unique, distinct shape of the tulip poplar.


tulip poplar: indiana state tree facts & figures