Ask a Question forum: Tulip Tree rarity and seed germination

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Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
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keithp2012
Jan 5, 2015 3:57 PM CST
I live on Long Island, NY and there is a single wild Tulip Tree growing. This whole area used to be farms about 50-60 years ago so this tree is Old! It drops so many seeds each year.

First, how rare are they in my area?
I've tried growing about 20 seeds keeping them out in pots in winter hearing they need cold stratification but none ever germinated. What am I doing wrong?
Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
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Xeramtheum
Jan 5, 2015 4:33 PM CST
According to Thompson & Morgan and Tom Clothier's seed database after cold stratification they want light and temps in the upper 60's to low 70's. Germination is irregular and prefer a peat based mix.
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Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
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needrain
Jan 5, 2015 5:14 PM CST
What kind of Tulip Tree? My sister in Houston bought a 'Tulip Tree' and it's some kind of Magnolia tree. Not at all what I learned as a Tulip Tree. What I know as a Tulip Tree is Liriodendron tulipifera and it doesn't seem much like a Magnolia of any sort. To me. If it's a single tree without any other growing for miles around, perhaps it requires a pollinator in order to produce viable seeds. Do the Magnolia types grow that far north? I'm not sure how far north the range is on Liriodendron tulipifera, but it's relatively common in east Texas and in Arkansas.
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Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
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Leftwood
Jan 5, 2015 5:16 PM CST
Sorry, I have no idea how rare or common tulip trees may be in your area. I do have one tulip tree I planted in my yard here in Minnesota (unusual for my climate). It's about 23 years old and has been blooming consistently for the last six years.But Tulip trees are said to be self infertile, meaning that if you only have one tree that can't be pollinated by another different tulip tree, viable seeds are very unlikely. I've cut open many, many of my seeds open and have never found any that looked like they might be alive. That said, I do have an encouraging true story for you.

The last few years especially, I've had hundreds of flowers, all producing what look like seeds, but nothing seems viable. This year, however, somehow I had five seedlings grow in the lawn and garden! I have to say, a lot of unusual things happened this year with many old plants that acted differently this year compared to all the previous years. So I am guessing this was a fluke with the tulip tree seedlings, too, but it can happen!

My advice is this winter (probably now) gather a grocery bag full of seeds, if you can. Mix the seeds, say half and half, with potting soil (as mentioned, they do like a peaty mix), and spread in a tray perhaps the depth of a cake pan. Keep moist and outside, by putting the whole tray(s) inside clear plastic garbage bags, and see if anything emerges by mid summer. Keep out of direct sun so it won't cook inside, and don't worry that the mix is too light. As long as the bag is sealed, there will be plenty of moisture. If you see anything emerging, remove the bag and keep moist. If you're late in finding emerging seedlings and they are already a half inch or more high, you will need to just open the bag first, and slowly acclimate the seedlings to exposed conditions over 2-3 weeks.
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
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plantladylin
Jan 5, 2015 5:17 PM CST
Have you tried rooting a cutting of the Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)
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Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America Winter Sowing Plays in the sandbox Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Tomato Heads
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keithp2012
Jan 5, 2015 6:05 PM CST
needrain said:What kind of Tulip Tree? My sister in Houston bought a 'Tulip Tree' and it's some kind of Magnolia tree. Not at all what I learned as a Tulip Tree. What I know as a Tulip Tree is Liriodendron tulipifera and it doesn't seem much like a Magnolia of any sort. To me. If it's a single tree without any other growing for miles around, perhaps it requires a pollinator in order to produce viable seeds. Do the Magnolia types grow that far north? I'm not sure how far north the range is on Liriodendron tulipifera, but it's relatively common in east Texas and in Arkansas.


Yes, Liriodendron tulipifera is the tree. We do fall in range for it but borderline for certain areas it won't grow. It flowers every year and produces seeds. I heard it self pollinates and lots of bees show up.
Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America Winter Sowing Plays in the sandbox Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Tomato Heads
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keithp2012
Jan 5, 2015 6:07 PM CST
Leftwood said:Sorry, I have no idea how rare or common tulip trees may be in your area. I do have one tulip tree I planted in my yard here in Minnesota (unusual for my climate). It's about 23 years old and has been blooming consistently for the last six years.But Tulip trees are said to be self infertile, meaning that if you only have one tree that can't be pollinated by another different tulip tree, viable seeds are very unlikely. I've cut open many, many of my seeds open and have never found any that looked like they might be alive. That said, I do have an encouraging true story for you.

The last few years especially, I've had hundreds of flowers, all producing what look like seeds, but nothing seems viable. This year, however, somehow I had five seedlings grow in the lawn and garden! I have to say, a lot of unusual things happened this year with many old plants that acted differently this year compared to all the previous years. So I am guessing this was a fluke with the tulip tree seedlings, too, but it can happen!

My advice is this winter (probably now) gather a grocery bag full of seeds, if you can. Mix the seeds, say half and half, with potting soil (as mentioned, they do like a peaty mix), and spread in a tray perhaps the depth of a cake pan. Keep moist and outside, by putting the whole tray(s) inside clear plastic garbage bags, and see if anything emerges by mid summer. Keep out of direct sun so it won't cook inside, and don't worry that the mix is too light. As long as the bag is sealed, there will be plenty of moisture. If you see anything emerging, remove the bag and keep moist. If you're late in finding emerging seedlings and they are already a half inch or more high, you will need to just open the bag first, and slowly acclimate the seedlings to exposed conditions over 2-3 weeks.


I will try again but not in direct sunlight like last time.
Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America Winter Sowing Plays in the sandbox Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Tomato Heads
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keithp2012
Jan 5, 2015 6:07 PM CST
[quote="plantladylin"]Have you tried rooting a cutting of the Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

The lowest branch is way too high to reach, the tree is Huge!
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
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Leftwood
Jan 5, 2015 6:14 PM CST
Liriodendron is know to be very difficult to root from cuttings, and the older the tree, the harder it is, unless you are able to cut from some juvenile root suckers.

Just get gobs and gobs of seed, Keith. Something is bound to be alive. You would be very, very lucky if something emerged from just 20 seeds.
Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
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needrain
Jan 5, 2015 7:21 PM CST
Yes, good luck! They are very attractive trees and they do get TALL!
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Name: Cinda
Indiana Zone 5b
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gardengus
Jan 5, 2015 7:55 PM CST
I have a tree in my yard next to the flower border and I have to pull a couple dozen seedlings out of the flower bed every year.
They pop up as weeds all over the property , however they are a very pretty tree, bees love the flowers and the goats love the leaves.



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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Jan 5, 2015 10:07 PM CST
There was a Tulip Tree in my hometown in southern Connecticut. Never saw any seedlings.

Here is a good article with lots of details. Living in or near North Carolina might be a good way to obtain viable seeds.
http://www.na.fs.fed.us/pubs/silvics_manual/volume_2/liriode...

According to the article, it seems there is a very short window of time for pollination to occur.
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[Last edited by greene - Jan 5, 2015 10:08 PM (+)]
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patweppler
Feb 18, 2015 6:58 PM CST
I have one on my yard. they are huge and full of flowers in the first week or so of May here.
Apparently the tree is not supposed to survive in the zone that I am in and talking to an expert on the tree.
Since some of the flowers are females and some of the flowers are males.......only the seed pod will drop from the female flower
they self pollinate..
apparently the tree out front here was 45 before it first bloomed. I bought this house a year and half ago and did not even notice the blooms although could smell them last year. then someone told me that it is a tulip tree.
this one out here is 80 Feet or more tall and on a good year can produce 700 flowers.........

a lily expert around here said that out of the seed pod some of the seeds should germinate...but they would need a cooling off in the fridge and then planted back outside again

hope this helps
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
Feb 18, 2015 9:36 PM CST
Especially with younger tulip trees (less than 30 years old), flowers tend to be in the top half of the tree. They aren't easily noticed unless you are looking for them.

All Tulip tree flowers possess both female and male parts, as indicated by the link that greene posted.

Seeds do need to be exposes to a cold, moist period (2.5-3 months) before they will germinate under warm conditions (55-80F).
Name: Cindi
Wichita, Kansas (Zone 7a)
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CindiKS
Feb 19, 2015 3:55 PM CST
EBay has several sellers with liriodendron (tulip tree). I bought this one last week from a seller named earthwaterwindfire365. Every tree he sent was much bigger than what he advertised. All are very well rooted. I paid $4.99 for this one. He shipped me several trees in a large box for $11 or so.
Thumb of 2015-02-19/CindiKS/42cf41
The counter is 36 inches tall, for reference.
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Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America Winter Sowing Plays in the sandbox Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Tomato Heads
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keithp2012
Feb 19, 2015 7:31 PM CST
CindiKS said:EBay has several sellers with liriodendron (tulip tree). I bought this one last week from a seller named earthwaterwindfire365. Every tree he sent was much bigger than what he advertised. All are very well rooted. I paid $4.99 for this one. He shipped me several trees in a large box for $11 or so.
Thumb of 2015-02-19/CindiKS/42cf41
The counter is 36 inches tall, for reference.


I'm giving away free seeds if anyone wants.


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patweppler
Jun 22, 2015 7:51 PM CST
so this is what is happening at my house ......
the tulip tree is 90 years old. the reason that conservation is collecting the seeds verses another one down the road that is say 30 years old is that they want to find what they call a True Tree.. A Native Tree with no chance of cross pollination with something else or any grafting maybe ........so in the end true seed....... the same genes as the parents then will happen. Since the tree here is not to grow in this zone and they are not sure how this tree grew to be this old in this zone......... the only answer is that the tree has a micro climate going on around it and has some protection from 2 old maples here..

The plan is take the seeds off the tree in the fall and then they will get the seeds taken out and then they send them to a nursery to see if they will geminate again..........and grow in this zone..

part of the problem they say is the small window for the pollinators........ this tree at 90 had tons of bumble bees and tons of honey bees.......... just in flower right actually. the 20 year old and 30 year old tulip trees around here have very little pollination going on.... at night the tree is covered in moths.... The flowers do not open all at once either and the tree has had bees for about a week now...... Noticed today that there are very few bees around now and personally not seen many bees towards the bottom of tree. The tree is approx. 80 feet tall........

they are hoping the young ones can survive but like stated do not produce that many viable seeds and many tulips do not produce viable seed until they are 50 years old........ a lot of seeds before that but not viable..

if you cut open a pod and it is white inside......the seed is viable.........if it is brown inside......it is not........ that is what I was told..........

My tree has likely put tons of viable seeds for years now that get eaten by the animals in the winter time...

Viable seeds stay up on the tree in the pod.......... ones that are not fall to the ground...........

they will be coming to climb up the tree to get the pods here sometime this fall........not sure when but likely October or so.....

hope some of this helps.......
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Jun 22, 2015 7:54 PM CST
@patweppler, What is your climate zone? I don't see the info on your posts? Thank you.
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Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America Winter Sowing Plays in the sandbox Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Tomato Heads
Vegetable Grower Garden Photography Hybridizer Spiders! Annuals Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
keithp2012
Jun 22, 2015 9:13 PM CST
I got two seeds to germinate for myself from the old tree here, I was too afraid to cut them open to peek because I assume with freezing temperatures that would of killed the seeds.

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patweppler
Jun 23, 2015 4:56 AM CST
that is cool..........
so how did you do that? just planted them......
someone from the ministry of natural resources told me that is you take the tulip seeds and plant them outside in straight sand and put that pot on the south side of the house for the winter......they should come up in the springtime..........as seedlings. the sand apparently works good....... I have not tried that but might do that this year for the heck of it and try it.....
I am also going to try to take a new cutting and then root it and see if it will grow.........but again not sure that will work but going to give it a try..... They said I need at least 12 inches of new growth to do that and since younger trees grow much faster then the older ones........that might have to wait until later this fall........if I can get it too root will plant it out and protect it and see if it makes it to next year.... or not in the springtime.....

my tree will go to my grave far more important then me.......guaranteed..hahahaha

I will post a link tomorrow to the local paper here so you can read the write up on this tree here..........some pretty cool info from the conservationist.....

hopefully will see if we get heritage status on this tree later this week....... I also ready that germination is super low on the amount of viable seeds in the pods...so really glad to here that you got two seeds to germinate there......

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