The Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory

What's Hot at the P&PDL
August 21, 2012

Tuliptree Drought Stress

Lenny Farlee, Extension Forester, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Many tuliptrees in yards and forests across Indiana have leaves that are turning yellow, or falling off much earlier than normal. Much of the blame for these symptoms can be placed on drought stress. Based on past experience following serious drought, some tuliptree will experience mortality over the next few years, while others will recover. The massive scale infestation seen in parts of Indiana will probably contribute to this decline of tuliptree. Symptoms of drought stress in tulip start with yellowing foliage, followed in some cases by early leaf drop or leaves browning and curling on the branches. Some trees have already dropped most of their foliage. It is hard to predict which trees will ultimately die and which ones will recover, but tuliptrees on very dry sites or already under stress prior to the drought will be at greater risk of dying. I have attached photos of several trees on campus showing drought stress and foliage loss. Forest landowners experiencing tuliptree mortality may want to salvage some of the value in these dying trees by selling them to the wood using industry in Indiana. Landowners should consult a professional forester prior to making any decisions on selling timber. Professional foresters can be located using the following website:

More information: Drought could have lasting effect on trees, specialist says - contains video clip

Click image to enlarge

Leaf yellowing

Many leaves lost to early leaf drop

A row of planted tuliptree showing varied response to drought

Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Lab Purdue Cooperative Extension Service