Yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), also called tuliptree, tulip-poplar, white-poplar, and whitewood, is one of the most attractive and tallest of eastern hardwoods. It is fast growing and may reach 300 years of age on deep, rich, well-drained soils of forest coves and lower mountain slopes. The wood has high commercial value because of its versatility and as a substitute for increasingly scarce softwoods in furniture and framing construction. Yellow-poplar is also valued as a honey tree, a source of wildlife food, and a shade tree for large areas.
THE TREE: Yellow poplar trees reach heights of 160 ft (49 m) with a diameter of 8 ft (2.4 m). It is probably the tallest hardwood tree in the eastern United States. The bark of Poplar trees is dark green and smooth with whitish vertical streaks in younger trees, in older trunks the bark is dark gray and furrowed. The leaves are 4"-6" in diameter, generally 4 lobed, bright green, turning yellow in autumn.
WOOD CHARACTERISTICS: Yellow poplar sapwood is white, sometimes with stripes; the heartwood is usually tan, but can range from greenish brown to dark green, purple, black, blue and yellow. The wood is straight grained, uniform in texture and moderate to light weight. Among commercially important hardwoods in the United States, yellow poplar ranks in the lower third of the range of the following properties: specific gravity, bending strength, toughness, impact resistance, work to maximum load, crushing strength, fiber stress at proportional limit, shear strength, tensile strength and side hardness.
Yellow-poplar wood is used for construction grade lumber and plywood. It has straight grain, little shrinkage, and excellent gluing qualities. In the past is was used for carriage bodies, shingles, saddle frames, and interior finish wood. It is currently used for cabinets, veneer, furniture, and pulp. Yellow-poplar has only fair value as a fuelwood but good value as kindling.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Yellow-poplar inhabits eastern North America. The species ranges from Vermont, west through southern Ontario and Michigan, south to Louisiana, and east to northern Florida.