It gets its name from its flowers, which bloom in midsummer and resemble those of the tulip plant. These have yellow petals with bright orange bases and centers and fragrant stems. Hummingbirds and bees love these blossoms for their abundant nectar, and bakers highly value the dark honey they make. Flowering usually doesn't occur until the tree reaches at least 15 years, but as the tree ages, they become more abundant.
It is the state tree of Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee and was frequently used by pioneers in those areas to build their homes and Native Americans used its trunks to make large dugout canoes that fit up to twenty people in them.
A fast-growing deciduous tree is still famous in the timber industry, with wood similar to white pine. It is frequently used in kitchenware, for artistic carving, particularly for planks, since the trunk usually grows straight up without branching for quite a distance.
The four-lobed leaves are large and glossy, bright green in the summer and turning golden yellow in the fall. Their habit of fluttering in the wind has caused the tree to be commonly referred to as a popular, but in truth, it is no more related to that genus than the tulip plant.
It can grow enormous, up to 190 feet tall and 10 feet in diameter at the trunk, but the expected growth is closer to about 100 feet. It does best in moist but well-drained soils and responds well to fertilizer.
An excellent shade tree that enjoys the partial sun, its growth is affected by placing it in the full sun. The canopy is lush in the summertime, conical in shape, and a mature tree should occupy about half its total height.
It is well suited to more significant properties and woodland gardens and is very tolerant of insects and diseases.