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Liriodendron (tulipifera)

John M. Englert
USDA NRCS - Norman A. Berg National Plant Materials Center
Bldg. 509, BARC - East, E. Beaver Dam Road
Beltsville, Maryland 20705
(301) 504-8175
(301) 504-8741 (fax)

Family Scientific Name: Magnoliaceae
Family Common Name: Magnolia Family
Scientific Name: Liriodendron tulipifera
Common Name: Tulip poplar
Species Code: LIRTUL
Ecotype: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, National Capital Parks-East, Shenandoah National Park, George Washington Memorial Parkway
General Distribution: Vermont to southern Michigan, Missouri and south to Florida and Louisiana. Found in rich woods and coves.
Propagation Goal: plants
Propagation Method: seed
ProductType: Plug + (container-field grown hybrids)
Time To Grow: 0
Target Specifications: Stock Type: Bareroot and container seedlings/ Height: Bareroot plants 24-48 inches; container plants 24-72 inches. Root System: container plants have firm, full root ball when pulled from pots.
Propagule Collection: Collected at Great Smoky Mountains National Park by J. Marshall on 10/5/94-10/18/94; Cumberland Gap National Historical Park by J. Copeland on 10/29/96, 11/15/97, 11/18/98, 11/15/99 and 10/13/00-10/23/00; National Capital Parks-East by J. Kujawski on 9/24/97; Shenandoah National Park by J. Englert on 10/21/92 and 10/26/93, by J. Kujawski on 9/24/96; George Washington Memorial Parkway by G. Meyer on 10/14/94, by J. Englert on 10/25/95, by J. Kujawski on 10/9/96 and 10/12/00-10/26/00.
Propagule Processing: Seed Processing: Seeds are pulled apart by hand and any large chaff removed prior to sowing.
Seeds/Kg: Approximately 33,300.
Germination: About 1.3% germination on average.
Purity: Seed purity for tulip poplar appears to be close to 100%.
Pre-Planting Treatments: Seed Treatments: We generally sow seeds in our outdoor nursery beds in the fall soon after collection and cleaning to allow natural stratification of the seeds.
Growing Area Preparation/
Annual Practices for Perennial Crops:
Propagation Environment: Outdoor nursery beds.

Seed Propagation Method: Pre-treated seeds hand-sown in rows.

Container Type and Volume: Some bareroot plants are transplanted into gallon size containers and then into 2- or 3-gallon pots, depending on plant sizes needed.

Growing Media: In containers, plants are grown in woody mix (3.8 cu ft. bale Sunshine #1, 4 cu. ft. of pine bark mulch, 20 oz. Nutricote and approximately 20 oz. endo-mycorrhizae).

Seed storage: If seeds are not sown the same season they are collected, they are stored dry in paper bags or large cloth bags (depending on the amount of seed) in a seed cooler at 40§F, 35% relative humidity.

Seed dormancy: Seeds have internal dormancy (USDA, 1974) and require cold, moist stratification to overcome this.
Establishment Phase: Sowing Date: Mid-November.

% Emergence and Date: Seedlings generally emerge during the spring following fall sowing.

Sowing/Planting Technique: Seeds are dusted with fungicide and hand sown into rows (rows are 5 to 6 inches apart, seeds are sown in a thick overlapping stream within each row). Endomycorrhizae are sprinkled over the seed before covering with about 3/4 inch of soil. The beds are then mulched with aged sawdust.

Establishment Phase: Sawdust mulch is scraped back in spring prior to seedling emergence. Newly emerged seedlings are monitored closely for irrigation needs. Young seedlings are shaded as soon as they emerge with poly screening at 30%. Shade cloth remains over seedlings until mid-August.
Active Growth Phase: Rapid Growth Phase: Because National Plant Materials Center soil is a nutrient poor sandy loam, seedlings are fertilized from mid-April with a granular 10-10-10 once a week through early June. From mid-June through late July, the 10-10-10 is alternated with a granular urea every other week. From late July through late August the seedlings are fertilized with 10-10-10 every two weeks. Overhead irrigation is used after every fertilization. The rate of water applied is determined by soil moisture prior to irrigation.
Hardening Phase: Hardening Phase: During mid- to late summer, fertilization is cut back to twice monthly. Beginning in September, irrigation is only used in a severe droughty situation.
Harvesting, Storage and Shipping: Total Time to Harvest: Bareroot plants are harvested after 2 years in nursery beds; 2-gallon container plants for some of our National Park Service projects are ready after an additional season.

Harvest Date: Dormant bareroot plants are harvested in early to mid-December.

Storage Conditions: Bareroot plants are bundled into groups of 25 (or whatever is manageable), and long roots are trimmed. Bundles are placed into plastic bins; roots are covered with sawdust. Bins are placed into a cold storage room (40§F) and watered as needed during the winter. Gallon size and larger container plants are stored outside. Containers are laid on their side on weed barrier fabric, and covered with 2 layers of a microfoam insulating blanket. The blanket is secured over plants by threading a rope over the blanket between rebar anchors on either side of a block of plants.
Length of Storage: <b>Storage Duration:</b> December to March.
Other Comments: Tulip poplar has exhibited extremely low germination rates at the Plant Materials Center. We collect thousands of seeds and often end up with only a few dozen seedlings.
References: Brown and Brown. 1992. Woody Plants of Maryland. Port City Press, Inc.

Gleason, H and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. 2nd edition. New York Bot. Garden.

USDA, Forest Service. 1974. Seeds of Woody Plants in the United States. USDA, Ag. Handbook 450.

USDA NRCS National Plant Materials Center. Woody bed and container plant records. Unpublished.


Davis, Kathy M.; Kujawski, Jennifer. 2001. Propagation protocol for production of Plug + (container-field grown hybrids) Liriodendron tulipifera plants USDA NRCS - Norman A. Berg National Plant Materials Center Beltsville, Maryland. In: Native Plant Network. URL: http://NativePlantNetwork.org (accessed 2021/09/19). US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Center for Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources.

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