Civics 101: Tennessee's state tree

J. H. Osborne • Sep 9, 2019 at 7:00 PM

The tulip poplar was designated the official state tree of Tennessee by Public Chapter 204 of the Acts of the 75th General Assembly in 1947, according to the Tennessee Blue Book.

The tulip poplar was chosen “because it grows from one end of the state to the other” and “was extensively used by the pioneers of the state to construct houses, barns, and other necessary farm buildings.”

The following description of the tulip poplar, the botanical name of which is Liriodendron tulipifera, is taken from “The Complete Guide to North American Trees”:

• Perhaps the most stately tree of our range, it sometimes reaches a height of 200 feet with a stem as regular as though turned on a lathe, and frequently showing 50 to 100 feet of trunk without a branch.

• The twigs are smooth, brownish gray, becoming cracked into a regular network of shallow, firm ridges; an old trunk broken into deep, rough ridges. Its leaves are very smooth and shining with a broad notch at the tip, usually four-lobed, 2 to 8 inches long. Its flowers are tulip-like, green orange, 1 to 3 inches deep.

• The fruit is cone-like, hanging on through the year, and is 2 to 3 inches long.

Source: The Tennessee Blue Book, Tennessee Secretary of State

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