The do-everything wood that's priced right
Ask a forester familiar with eastern hardwoods about yellow poplar, and he'll talk about tuliptree. And when a New England architect specifies whitewood, he most likely means yellow poplar. Talk to a lumberman about yellow poplar, though, and you'll both speak the same language because this tree represents the most valuable commercial species of the eastern forests.
Even before the first settlers arrived, New York's Onondaga Indians were very familiar with "the white tree." From its easily worked pale wood, they made canoes and utensils. When colonists arrived, the newcomers learned to craft what they soon called yellow poplar into everything from berry baskets and boxes to trim and furniture.
Today, the wood remains just as versatile. No other species can match yellow poplar's variety of uses. It becomes construction lumber; moldings, plywood cores, drawer sides, matches, piano and organ actions, containers, paper, woodenware, furniture parts, and even caskets.