The large white or pink flowers on the various kinds of magnolia trees are a welcome sight in the garden. Although less showy, the flowers of the tulip tree (Liriodendron) are also attractive and make a nice addition to the late spring landscape. In addition, both magnolias and tulip trees have large attractive leaves and are native to eastern United States but are planted on the west coast as ornamentals. Tulip trees, also known as white or yellow poplar, were an important source of lumber historically and are still used for cabinetry and furniture. There are about 220 species in 7 genera world wide.
The key characteristics of the Magnoliaceae are as follows.
Large showy flowers
Numerous stamens are spirally arranged around pistils that are also spirally arranged to form a cone.
Cone like fruits
Other characteristics that might be helpful are:
Leaves alternate. Those of Liriodentron are distinctive with four lobes.
Flowers have 3 sepals and 5 or more petals that look alike and are called tepals.