For Your Garden - May 2013
Native plants provide beauty as well as food and shelter for wildlife. Native species are adapted to the Illinois climate. They require little or no watering and are resistant to drought, insects and most diseases. Because they are perennials, you can welcome their presence year after year. Consider adding a few native plant species to your garden soon!
tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)
Photo © Illinois Department of Natural Resources
The tulip poplar is also known as the tuliptree. It is native to eastern and southern Illinois but is widely planted in the state as an ornamental tree, too. It grows in moist, rich upland forests. It may reach a height of 120 feet. The oblong or pyramidal shape is distinctive. Flowers are about two inches long and open in May. They consist of six petals, each yellow-green with an orange base. The leaves have four large lobes, usually with a notch between the upper lobes. The winged seeds produced by the flowers provide food for wildlife in the fall and winter.
Classification and taxonomy are based on Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 2014. Vascular flora of Illinois: A field guide. Fourth edition. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 536 pp.