Shade Tolerance = Intolerant
Soil Moisture Niche = Moist, well drained Sites
Vertical Preference = Canopy
Yellow poplar leaves have a distinctive shape easily recognized by most people. They resemble a tulip in outline, but it is the large tulip-like yellow flowers that inspired the alternate name of tuliptree. Also distinctive is the tree's columnar trunk rising to a height of 150 feet or more. American Indians made dugout canoes from these mighty trunks of soft light-weight wood easily worked with stone tools in conjunction with fire.
An often unsuspected member of the magnolia family, yellow poplar shares several traits with its showier but less majestic relatives. All have showy flowers, and all wear rings, stipular rings that is. Stipules are small leafy growths borne on the twig where the leaves arise. Magnolia family members display stipules as distinctive rings surrounding the twig at the leaf base. This unique characteristic is useful during sessions of winter botany, the dendrological nemesis of the aspiring tree nerd!
Yellow poplar is one of the first trees to unfold leaves in spring and one of the first to release them in autumn. They always turn some shade between light yellow and orange creating a striking appearance against a deep blue autumn sky.