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Yellow Poplar - Identifying Yellow Poplar in North American Trees


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Introduction To Yellow Poplar
Yellow poplar

Yellow poplar leaves and flower

Steve Nix/ About.com
Yellow poplar or tulip poplar is the tallest hardwood tree in North America with one of the most perfect and straight trunks in the forest. Yellow poplar has a very unique leaf with four lobes separated by rounded notches. The showy flower is tulip-like (or lily-like) which supports the alternate name of tulip poplar. The soft and light wood was hollowed out by early American settlers to use as canoes. Today's wood is used for furniture and pallets.

The tulip poplar grows 80 to 100 feet tall and trunks become massive in old age, becoming deeply furrowed with thick bark. The tree maintains a straight trunk and generally does not form double or multiple leaders.

Tuliptree has a moderate to rapid (on good sites) growth rate at first but slows down with age. The soft wood reportedly is subject to storm damage but the trees held up remarkably well in the south during hurricane ‘Hugo’. It is probably stronger than given credit for.

The largest trees in the east are in the Joyce Kilmer Forest in NC, some reaching more than 150 feet with seven-foot diameter trunks. The fall color is gold to yellow being more pronounced in the northern part of its range. The scented, tulip-like, greenish-yellow flowers appear in mid-spring but are not as ornamental as those of other flowering trees because they are far from view.

Start with the Tree Finder if you are not sure what kind of tree you have!
Yellow Poplar in Central Park
The Silviculture of Tulip Poplar

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