Yellow Poplar, known also as a Tulip Tree, is one of the more important of the commercial hardwoods although it is a "soft" hardwood that is in many respects similar to Basswood. It is not of the same family as true Poplars nor is it related to Brazilian Tulipwood. In certain parts of the country, it is sometimes called Canoe Tree, Whitewood, or Saddle Leaf Tree, because of the distinctive shape of its leaves.
Yellow Poplar is one of the largest hardwood trees grown in the country and is known to have grown to over 10 feet in diameter and up to 200 feet tall. It is found growing naturally in a large area bounded generally by southern New England through New York to southern Wisconsin and south into Tennessee to northeastern Alabama and northern Florida.
The only two true Tulip tree species known in the world are found only in the United States and central China. The stand of saw timber has been estimated from 9 to over 12 billion board feet, over half of which is in the states of Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
Tulip tree lumber is commonly distributed as Yellow Poplar in the usual hardwood grades, although special grades of Whitewood are sold in certain parts of the country. Cucumber Magnolia and Evergreen Magnolia are sometimes sold as and with the lower grades of Yellow Poplar and resemble that wood considerably except that they are usually somewhat heavier and harder and have a more greenish or purplish tinge.
Yellow Poplar is available in good quantity both in the form of lumber and as veneer for cross banding and face veneers. The sapwood is generally creamy to white, with discoloring strips of darker color often present. The sapwood is usually several inches in thickness and there is a marked difference between sapwood and heartwood in color. The heartwood is usually a pale canary-yellow color with a distinctly greenish cast, although it is sometimes a light brownish color in some portions, and purplish brown or purplish black streaks are often found running through it.
Yellow Poplar is a medium textured, light-weight wood noted for its ability to stay in place and hold its position, excellent gluing and nailing qualities, and general good machinability. Although classified as moderately weak in strength properties. Yellow Poplar has sufficient strength for most constructions and it is superior to many hardwoods in stability, stiffness and all around adaptability.
Yellow Poplar is especially popular in the plywood field as a core wood, where its ability to take glue, light weight, ability to hold position with little warping tendencies, and good machinability make it an ideal base for veneers. In the form of veneer, it is used both for cross banding and face veneer. Its application as a face veneer is limited chiefly to utility plywood because of its lack of distinctive figure. As a veneer, Yellow Poplar has little definite figure, showing a little curly at times and sometimes shows some blister and burl in selected veneers.
Yellow Poplar is much used for exterior construction and trims as it has good weather and moisture resistance qualities together with an excellent surface for taking and holding paint and enamel. Some of its many outside applications include: battens, siding, outside trim, sill, shutters, blinds, porch ceiling, carriages, stringers, columns and railings.
Industrial reports show that Yellow Poplar is used in the manufacture of wood products by more different industries than any other wood.
In the furniture field, Yellow Poplar is chiefly used in panel form for core stock, table tops, case panels, carvings and low-priced turnings, and especially found breakfast and dinette sets.
Yellow Poplar is used extensively for toys, general millwork, planning mill products, musical instruments, food containers, woodenware, baskets, kitchen cabinets, refrigerators, and cigar boxes.
In the lower grades, Yellow Poplar is used for boxes, crates, veneered containers, paper, airplane parts, and piano and organ parts.
Other important uses of Yellow Poplar are for motor vehicle and wagon parts, store and office fixtures, caskets, car construction, Venetian blinds, ironing boards, bakers peels, laundry machinery, carpet sweepers, trunks, bungs and faucets, farming implements, ladders, matches, pool tables and ping pong tables, brush blocks and plumber's woodwork. Yellow Poplar is used to make thousands of wood products.
Natural color: Sapwood-creamy to white, heartwood-light to dark yellowish brown with greenish or purplish tinge.