Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Sowing Liriodendron

For years I have been trying to raise the Tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipfera from seeds. It is a beautiful tree form the Magnoliaceae family, native to eastern parts of USA. It has interesting leaves and unusually coloured greenish-yellow tulip like flowers (hence the name). It is quite popular for use in horticulture.

Young tulip trees in the town.

Nine new trees are planted in a row near hospital building. There are also three older trees in the park. All of them bare seeds regularly but I never found any seedling underneath. Maybe because seeds get raked in autumn or seedlings are being cut off when the mowing season starts. The most probable cause is low germination rate of the seed.
The seeds are clustered around the flower axis and have a wing so, clearly, they are distributed by wind.

Anyway, persistent as I am, I have sown some seeds again. One tray of seeds stands on normal room temperature and light. Another ten seeds are placed in compost in an egg crate, watered and covered to keep the moisture.

Egg crates are good for starting seeds. As soon as plant develops the first pair of true leaves, they need to be transplanted in individual pots.
I placed the egg crate in another plastic container and then on the kitchen radiator (not so hot). Some bottom heath usually helps germination.

winged seeds

Some say it takes up to 25 (!) years for the seed raised trees to flower while the other claim eight years. The tree is supposed to grow relatively fast. Let's see if I am of better luck this time!


  1. Beautiful and very interesting post Kalipso!
    xoxo, Zondra Art

  2. Oh, I do wish you luck with this! I shall look forward to checking back to see your progress! Well Done!

  3. This is a native tree to Pennsylvania (US) and my garden. I was always fascinated by the flowers as a child because they are so unusual looking. My trees do produce seedlings around the garden---I wish I could send you one! They are not grown ornamentally for the flowers though because the trees get very tall and you can't see the flowers except on the ground. Very beautiful leaves too and wonderful straight, soaring habit.


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