This section is from the book "The Botanical Magazine; Or, Flower-Garden Displayed", by William Curtis. Also available from Amazon: The Botanical Magazine; or, Flower-Garden Displayed, Volume I.
Liriodendron Tulipifera. Common Tulip-Tree
Cal. 3-phyllus. Petala 6. Sem. imbricata in strobilum.
LIRIODENDRON Tulipifera foliis lobatis. Linn. Syst. Veg. ed. 14. Murr. p. 507. Ait. Kew. v. 2. 250.
TULIPIFERA virginiana, tripartito aceris folio: media lacinia velut abscissa. Pluk. Alm. 379. t. 117. f. 5. & t. 248. f. 7. Catesb. Carol. 1. p. 48. t. 48.
LIRIODENDRON foliis angulatis truncatis. Trew. Ehret. t. x.
The Tulip-tree is a native of most parts of North-America, Marshall describes it as often growing to the size of a very large tree, 70 or 80 feet in height, and above 4 feet in diameter; he mentions two varieties, one with yellow and the other with white wood; that with yellow wood is soft and brittle, much used for boards, heels of shoes, also turned into bowls, trenchers, etc. the white is heavy, tough, and hard, and is sawed into joists, boards, etc. for building.
Ray informs us in his Hist. Pl. that this tree was cultivated here by Bishop Compton, in 1688: and from Miller we learn, that the first tree of the kind which flowered in this country, was in the gardens of the Earl of Peterborough, at Parsons-Green, near Fulham; in Mr. Ord's garden, at Walham-Green, there is, among other choice old trees, a very fine tulip-tree, which is every year covered with blossoms, and which afforded us the specimen here figured. It flowers in June and July, rarely ripens its seeds with us, though it does readily in America.
The foliage of this plant is extremely singular, most of the leaves appearing as if truncated, or cut off at the extremity; they vary greatly in the division of their lobes, the flowers differ from those of the tulip in having a calyx, but agree as to the number of petals, which is six; and so they are described in the sixth edition of the Gen. Pl. of Linn. but in Professor Murray's Syst. Veg. Ait. H. K. Linn. Syst. Nat. ed. 13, by Gmelin, 9 are given, this in the first instance must be a mere typographical error arising from the inversion of the 6.
This tree is found to flourish most in a soil moderately stiff and moist, is usually raised from seeds, the process of which is amply described by Miller in his Dictionary.