Herb: Tulip Tree

Latin name: Liriodendron tulipifera

Synonyms: Tulipifera liriodendron

Family: Magnoliaceae (Magnolia Family)

Medicinal use of Tulip Tree:

The intensely acrid bitter inner bark, especially of the roots, is used domestically as a diuretic, tonic and stimulant. The raw green bark is also chewed as an aphrodisiac. The bark contains "tulipiferine", which is said to exert powerful effects on the heart and nervous system. A tea is used in the treatment of indigestion, dysentery, rheumatism, coughs, fevers etc. Externally, the tea is used as a wash and a poultice on wounds and boils. The root bark and the seeds have both been used to expel worms from the body.

Description of the plant:


30 m
(98 feet)

to July

Habitat of the herb:

Deep rich rather moist soils on mountain slopes and by streams.

Edible parts of Tulip Tree:

The root is used as a lemon-like flavouring in spruce beer, where it also serves to correct the bitterness of the beer. The bark of the root and branches have a pleasant rather pungent scent.

Other uses of the herb:

A gold-coloured dye is obtained from the bark. Wood - fine grained, soft, light, easily worked, durable, brittle, not strong but does not split. A valuable timber, it weighs 26lb per cubic foot and is much used for interior finishes, furniture, construction and plywood.

Propagation of Tulip Tree:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a shady place in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 3 weeks warm then 12 weeks cold stratification. Germination is usually poor, only about 1% of the seed is viable. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Layering in spring. Do not sever from the parent plant for 2 years.

Cultivation of the herb:

Deep rich rather moist soils on mountain slopes and by streams.

Known hazards of Liriodendron tulipifera:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.