The Tulip Poplar - Liriodendron tulipifera is not even a Poplar Tree at all. Early settlers thought this tree was related to the white poplar back home, which are actually members of the Willow family.
This was not correct at all. The Tulip Poplar is really in the Magnolia Tree family.
I’ve heard it called many names such as: yellow poplar, tulip tree, yellow wood, and what my Papa always called it. Old Wife’s Shirt. He said the leaves looked like an old shirt.
No matter what they are called tulip poplars are about the easiest to identify during any season here in the Eastern Woodlands. If someone is just starting out learning wilderness skills then this is the first tree I think anyone should learn. It has so many resources.
How to find it?
It is one of the tallest trees in the eastern woodlands, tulip poplars grow to heights of 100’ or more. It has straight limbless trunks that go on until they come out toward the top. Then the limbs begin to show. Large orange, yellow, and green flowers that appear around mid spring here in South Carolina. The leaves are kinda square shaped 4 to 5 inches long and have 4 to 6 paired lobes on long stalks. Even in winter, long after the leaves have fallen, it is easy to spot these trees. While growing toward the forest canopy, this hardwood drops its limbs leaving dark marks scattered along the the light gray trunks. Before the limbs drop the bark from dead limbs usually peel off leaving a wood that is white colored.
What are some of It’s many uses?
Use dead wood for fire by friction
Use inner bark for tinder
Use inner bark to make natural cordage
Use the outer bark to make containers
Excellent wood for building materials
Excellent wood to make canoes
The nectar from the flower is edible
Poultice from leaves used for inflammation
Tea from the inner bark is used for fevers and upset stomach
Cough syrup is made from the bark
I’ve even read that the inner bark was chewed as an aphrodisiac
As I explained earlier the Tulip Poplar is my go-to resource in the eastern woodlands.
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