Poplar Lumber

Botanical Name: Liriodendron tulipifera

Family: Salicaceae

Other Common Names: American tulipwood, American whitewood, Canary whitewood, Canary wood, Canoe wood, Poplar, Popple, Saddletree, Tulip poplar, Tuliptree, Tulipwood, White poplar, Whitewood, Yellow poplar.

Uses: Furniture, turnings, cabinetwork, interiors, commercial veneer, toys, broom handles, baskets, foot containers, popsicle sticks, and tongue depressors.

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Distribution: Yellow poplar is reported to occur in Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Ontario, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, and West Virginia. It usually grows in pure stands and prefers moist, well-drained soils, especially in valleys and slopes.

General Characteristics: The tree is described as one of the tallest and most beautiful of eastern hardwoods. It usually has a long, straight stem, measuring about 80 to 120 feet (24 to 37 m) high, with a trunk diameter of 24 to 36 inches (60 to 90 cm). The heartwood is described as pale-olive green to brown, or clear yellow to tan or greenish brown. It usually has blue-colored streaks or shades of purple, dark green, blue and black. The narrow sapwood (old-growth) is described as whitish or creamy, usually variegated or striped. Texture is typically fine and even; the wood is straight grained, occasionally with an attractive blister figure. There is no significant odor or taste.

Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) 0.42; air-dry density 30 pcf.

Working Properties: The wood has low cutting resistance. Yellow poplar is reported to respond well to most tools, and is rather easy to work. The wood is reported to turn easily. The wood is reported to respond readily to boring. Yellow poplar is reported to have exceptionally poor moulding characteristics. Mortising characteristics are rated as good. Yellow poplar has been described as a fine carving wood. The material is reported to have excellent gluing properties. Nailing qualities are rated as good, but holding properties are reported to be less than adequate. Screwing properties are rated as fair. The wood is reported to possess very poor sanding properties. Staining characteristics are reported to be good. Different colored streaks which are normally found in the heartwood may interfere with natural finishes. They do not, however, have any effect on the physical properties of the wood. The material is reported to take varnish well. The wood takes paint well. Steam bending characteristics are reported to be good.

Durability: The Yellow poplar has little or no natural resistance to attack by decay causing fungi and other wood destroying insects. The sapwood is susceptible to attack by the common furniture beetle.

Preservation: The heartwood is reported to be difficult to treat with preservatives. The sapwood is permeable.

Mechanical Properties

This specie is not recommended for exterior use.

Bending Strength:

Green: 6,000 psi
Dry: 10,100 psi

Modules of Elasticity:

Green: 1,220 @ 1,000 psi
Dry: 1,580 @ 1,000 psi

Maximum Crushing Strength:

Green: 2,660 psi
Dry: 5,540 psi

Drying and Shrinkage:

The wood dries easily with minimum degrade. Defects such as mold and sapwood stains may develop if the wood is dried slowly. Moderate kiln schedules are recommended. Wetwood may contribute to honeycomb and water pockets (rare). Kiln Schedule T11-D4 is suggested for 4/4 stock and T10-D3 for 8/4. Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 5%; tangential 8%. Seasoned wood is reported to be dimensionally stable, and hold its place well in use.

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