The Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory

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July 24, 2007

Tulip Tree Leaf Drop - No Cause For Alarm

Gail Ruhl, Sr. Plant Disease Diagnostician, Dept. of Botany & Plant Pathology, Purdue University

Premature yellowing and leaf drop observed on tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), also known as yellow poplar and tulip poplar. (Figures 1 and 2) are symptoms most likely related to root stress. Previous extended periods of hot, dry, weather in combination with various site stress factors, are likely contributing factors. An added symptom that frequently accompanies the leaf yellowing is the appearance of circular, black spots between the veins of the yellowing leaves (Figures 3 and 4). The black spots are often mistaken for a fungal leaf spot disease. Though alarming in appearance these symptoms do not usually affect long-term tree vigor or health.

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Tulip tree leaf drop

Figure 1. Tulip tree leaf drop

Tulip tree leaves on branch

Figure 2. Yellow and brown leaves on a tulip tree branch

Tulip leaves

Figure 3. Close-up of a tuliptree leaf showing physiological leaf spot

Tulip leaves

Figure 4. Tuliptree leaves with leaf spot

Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Lab Purdue Cooperative Extension Service