Liriodendron Tulipifera

Wood from the yellow poplar tree is often used in light construction, such as in single-family homes or storage sheds. Wood from the yellow poplar tree is also used in kitchen cabinets and doors. Since wood from the yellow poplar tree can be easily machine-worked, painted and stained, this wood is an excellent choice for furniture making as well.

The wood sold in the United States as “poplar wood” actually comes from trees in the magnolia family called Liriodendron tulipifera. The common English-language names for this tree are “yellow poplar,” “tulip poplar,” “American tulip” or “tulip tree.” Since the yellow poplar’s growth range spans from the Mississippi River to the east coast of the United States, it may not be surprising to find that the wood from yellow poplar trees was used extensively for buildings in that area between the 18th and 20th centuries.

Wood from the yellow poplar is often used for the same applications as some softwoods such as western pine. Because of this, there may be some confusion as to why poplar wood is considered a “hardwood.” Since the yellow poplar is a deciduous tree – meaning that the tree sheds its leaves annually – the wood from the yellow poplar is considered to be a hardwood rather than the “softwoods” that evergreen trees produce.