Trees of Clear Lake Twp.
January 24, 2020
Did you guess the Tulip Tree? You are correct!
Indiana has a nickname - Hoosier State; a motto - “Crossroads of America;” a bird – cardinal; and a flower - Peony. But how about the state tree? Perhaps the Sycamore? Actually, it is the Tulip Tree, (Liriodendron tulipifera). Even though it is sometimes misnamed the “yellow poplar,” it is a member of the magnolia family. A valuable timber and shade tree, it's fast growing and the tallest of the eastern hardwoods. Tulip trees can be found on Conservancy Nature Preserves around the Township, including a giant one at the Flora Hussleman Trumbull Nature Preserve. A lightweight wood, it was used to craft dugout canoes by Native Americans and to build log cabins and other structures by early settlers.
It is one of the tallest and most beautiful hardwoods with a long straight trunk, few lower branches (for a good view) but provides generous shade on hot summer days. In spring, look forward to fragrant, eye-catching, tri-colored flowers with orange, yellow and green petals shaped like a tulip. The leaves are waxy and smooth and are dark green on the upper side, pale green underneath and turn bright yellow in autumn. Adding interest to the tree is its fragrant, light gray bark that’s smooth on young trees and becomes thick and furrowed with age. Bees make honey from the blossoms, and various wildlife eat the fruit and twigs. The species is also a larval host for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly.
This tree is one of the chief commercial hardwoods and is used in furniture, flooring, siding, toys, and musical instruments. But in your yard it is truly the source of all-season beauty and a resource of beneficial gifts that will last for many generations. The Indiana Tulip Tree – truly a gem!
Photo credit: Don Luepke.