Tuesday morning, June 6, the tulip poplar tree is in bloom near the Octagon House on the corner of Perham and High streets in Farmington. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

FARMINGTON — A flowering tree found near the Octagon House at the corner of High and Perham streets is part of the town’s history and a bit unusual.

“The only history I have, the tree was probably planted in 1912 is more than 100 years old,” Jane Woodman, Farmington Historical Society president said Monday afternoon, June 5. “It had to be during the time the Malletts were around, it had to have been imported and planted. The tree itself is not usually seen this far north. It’s been happy for 100 years, so it must be doing something right.”

The tulip poplar tree is named for its large tulip-like flowers, seen Tuesday morning, June 6, near the Octagon House in Farmington. The tree is thought to be more than 100 years old. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

The tree’s Latin name is Liriodendron tulipifera, according to Wikipedia. It is known as the tulip tree, American tulip tree, tulipwood, tuliptree, tulip poplar, whitewood, fiddletree, lynn-tree, hickory-poplar, and yellow-poplar. The tallest eastern hardwood, it is native to eastern North America from Southern Ontario and possibly southern Quebec to Illinois eastward to southwestern Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The tulip poplar tree is a native large deciduous tree that may grow 90 to 120 feet tall, according to a description from North Carolina State University’s Cooperative Extension website. This tree is one of the largest native trees in North America, and is the State tree of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana, the site notes.

In 2021, the tallest tulip tree was one called the Fork Ridge Tulip Tree at a secret location in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina measuring 191 feet 10 inches in height, according to Wikipedia. At that time, it was the tallest known individual tree in eastern North America, Wikipedia noted.

According to Maine’s registry of tall trees, the tallest tulip tree in Maine was measured in 2015, was 142 feet and located in Bath. That tree had a circumference of 168 inches. In 2021, American Forests listed a tulip tree in Virginia with a circumference of 362 inches and height of 130 feet.


The height of the Farmington tulip tree isn’t known, but it is taller than the belvedere on top of the Octagon House, Woodman said. A photo taken Tuesday shows it to be almost twice as tall as the telephone pole nearby.

Later Tuesday Maine State Forester Patty Cormier, who lives in Farmington said she doesn’t know of any other tulip trees in Maine. Most tulips trees are found in the Appalachia region, the one in Bath makes more sense, but Farmington is so far north, she noted.

“It’s a tough old bird,” Cormier stated. “It’s a cool tree. It’s interesting that Farmington has one.”

Another interesting fact about the tulip poplar tree is the flowers for which it is named. Not a poplar, the tree is a member of the magnolia family and has large yellowish-green flowers with deeper orange at the base of each petal. The large flowers resemble tulip blossoms and cover the tree. While tulip blossoms usually have three petals, the tree blossoms have several.

On Tuesday morning, June 6, the tulip-shaped flowers for which the tulip poplar tree is named are seen on the tree growing near the Octagon House in Farmington. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

“It’s an interesting tree,” Woodman noted. “The blossoms are only pollinated by crawling insects, not flying ones. We don’t know what kind.”

The tulip tree is a well-known host for the large, green eggs of the the eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly, which are known to lay their eggs exclusively among plants in the magnolia and rose families of plants, primarily in mid-late June through early August, Wikipedia notes.


Seeds have sprouted producing seedlings, Woodman said. “Robert Zundel dug up a little one, put it at the Titcomb House on the corner of Academy and High streets. It made it through the winter but that late frost damaged a few leaves. When it grows bigger it will see its mother.

“There are also some tulip trees on Perham Street, the owners may not know what they are.”

While taking photos of the tree, it was discovered part of its trunk is V-shaped. Woodman provided another interesting tidbit about the tree, stating, “Two large limbs were cabled together so they don’t split open.” She doesn’t know when that was done.

“It’s a very unique tree,” Woodman added.

“There’s a lot of variety in Farmington, people and trees,” Cormier said.

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