Plant of the month: June
Liriodendron tulipifera is a member of the Magnoliaceae family and can be found on the American Bank.
This tree has the most handsome leaves, that look like stylised tulip flowers. We presume that this is where it gets its common name ‘The Tulip Tree’, although its flowers look a little like tulips as well.
This tree is native to America but there is a Liriodendron chinense from China that has similar shaped leaves.
Liriodendron tulipifera grows to around 30m tall and 15m wide and is totally hardy in this country, it should be more widely grown as it makes a good specimen tree. According to Mabberley (Mabberley’s Plant Book an invaluable book for all plant lovers) a canoe was fashioned for Daniel Boone from a single 18m trunk.
Its flowers look somewhat like tulips but are a lime green and orange about the size of an egg cup. They open in June and can be quite hard to see, but persevere as they are charming. The tree does not flower when young so you must be patient.
Its foliage turns a buttery yellow in autumn, making this a tree for all seasons.
Liriodendron tulipifera, is fully hardy and will grow in any moderately fertile soil, but it prefers slightly acidic (below 7 i.e. 6 on the pH scale). The soil should be moist but free draining, in full sun or partial shade.
It requires little pruning other than to remove dead, diseased or dying branches to promote a healthy frame work.