The tuliptree magnolia is also called the tulip poplar or yellow poplar, though it is neither a tulip nor a poplar. It is easily recognized by its fruit, which is a cone-like aggregate of samarass, each of which has a roughly tetrahedral seed with one edge attached to the central conical spike and the other edge attached to the wing. The leaves look vaguely like those of the sycamore. The flowers have three sepals and three petals, which are similar enough to be called tepals, as are those of the tulip. The stamens and pistils are arranged spirally around the spike; the stamens fall off, and the pistils become the samaras.
The blossoms yield large quantities of nectar and the species is a major honey plant in eastern USA, yielding a dark reddish, fairly strong flavored honey.
Tulip poplar makes a magnificently shaped yard tree, but very large, as it can grow to about 35 meters in good soil. The tree grew to more than 50 meters in virgin forests of eastern United States, often with no limbs until 25-30 meters in height which made it a very valuable timber tree.
It is fast growing, without the common problems usually seen in fast growing species. Its soft, fine-grained wood is highly prized for cabinet making and many other uses. It is also commonly used for siding clapboards. Its wood is comparable in texture, strength, and softness to white pine and the two are used interchangeably.