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General Forestry => Ask The Forester => Topic started by: edward johnson on August 03, 2022, 09:44:51 PM

Title: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: edward johnson on August 03, 2022, 09:44:51 PM
Recently I discovered that hummingbirds love tulip trees.  And would love to plant a few.  They typically have a straight trunk without lower branches.  What is the timber value on a mature tulip tree?  Is it good wood for lumber?
Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: Southside on August 03, 2022, 11:29:39 PM
If you mean Tulip or Yellow Poplar, yes it's an excellent hardwood and can be very valuable if it fits into the right log or veneer spec.  If you plant them today however I don't think you would see much high valuable recovery, but others in the future would.  
Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: WDH on August 04, 2022, 09:31:31 AM
Tulip poplar AKA yellow poplar is in the Magnolia family.  It has beautiful flowers like the other magnolias and the wood is light but strong.  It is a fine tree all around.  They also grow very large and are one of the largest eastern hardwoods when they reach old age.  It is very shade intolerant and grows very straight, tall, and self prunes very well.  

The Georgia champion yellow poplar is just under 8 feet in diameter.
Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: Larry on August 04, 2022, 11:47:04 AM
On my farm in nw Missouri I put 40 acres of crp ground into timber.  Since tulip poplar is not native to the area I consulted with my forester.  He thought it would grow fine so I planted about an acre.  The seedlings really took off and grew at an impressive rate.  Far faster than the oaks and walnuts were growing.  Both of us were impressed.  After 20 years they are still doing great and add a lot to the property.

I would have planted more of it if I had a do over.

Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: Blackgreyhounds on August 04, 2022, 02:58:53 PM
Recently I discovered that hummingbirds love tulip trees.  And would love to plant a few.  They typically have a straight trunk without lower branches.  What is the timber value on a mature tulip tree?  Is it good wood for lumber?
YES! Next time you're in your local big box, take a look at all the "poplar" lumber on the shelves.  That's tulip poplar.  It's light, easy to work and very stable. Great for moldings, secondary wood in furniture.  Not great for flooring (too soft) or outside.
Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: Ianab on August 04, 2022, 03:58:37 PM
Planting for timber is a long term project, maybe 50+ years for most species.  But you will see the flowers and bird life after a couple of years, even if it's your descendants that see the eventual  lumber. 

Another thought is to mix up the species with other flowering trees / shrubs that flower over different times. That extends the time that the food source is available, so the hummingbirds will tend to stay around your property for longer. 

We of course have different trees and bird species, but right now the native Tui (a larger type of honey eater) have moved into the town gardens to feed on the introduced garden species that flower over Winter and early Spring. You actually notice them moving around town as different trees come into flower. Once the weather warms up and the flowering cherries finish, they all vanish and migrate the 10 miles or so back up to the National Park native forest to breed over summer. Point being if I had Banksia, Kowhai AND flowering Cherry in my garden, they would hang out here more for 3 months, rather than moving across town to the big stand of kowhai outside the school. I imagine hummingbirds would act similar and follow the local food sources around.
Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: KEC on August 04, 2022, 05:23:17 PM
You might be interested to know that, in forested areas, hummingbirds feed on sap and insects at the sap wells (holes)  made by Yellowbellied Sapsuckers. A hummer will even tag along with a sapsucker as though there was an invisible string about 4' long tying the two together. I saw a hummer feeding at the sap wells on a small elm tree once. Honey bees like tulip blossums and bee keepers like to set out hives near tulip trees.
Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: WDH on August 04, 2022, 05:35:15 PM
Many people donít know that hummers feed their young in the nest with lots of insects. 
Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: Southside on August 04, 2022, 06:23:46 PM
Tulip honey is very sought after. It's light colored and very sweet, not bitter at all. 
Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: Larry on August 04, 2022, 09:56:51 PM
Right now I'm going through more than a quart a day on my hummingbird feeders.  Found some calculator on the web that told me I have a population of 170 hummers based on the amount they are eating.  Not sure.....never counted em. :D  I can tell you I can sit on my deck anytime and never be bothered by a mosquito.  :)
Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: Ianab on August 05, 2022, 12:21:08 AM
Found some calculator on the web that told me I have a population of 170 hummers based on the amount they are eating.  Not sure.....never counted em.


I'm guessing it's like counting dolphins. For every 1 you can see, there are 10 more under the water. 
Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: SwampDonkey on August 05, 2022, 04:34:17 AM
Mix your planting with American basswood. A fast growing hardwood as well and it has blooms sought by bees and they smell nice to. ;D


(https://forestryforum.com/gallery/albums/userpics/11009/SD_AB-flowers.jpg?easyrotate_cache=1192063080)

Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: Ianab on August 05, 2022, 05:38:16 AM
Mix your planting with American basswood. A fast growing hardwood as well and it has blooms sought by bees and they smell nice to. ;D


(https://forestryforum.com/gallery/albums/userpics/11009/SD_AB-flowers.jpg?easyrotate_cache=1192063080)

That's the sort of idea I was thinking. Plant some Tulip Poplars for sure. and then mix in some other species as well. 
Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: kantuckid on August 05, 2022, 08:05:40 AM
Tulip honey is very sought after. It's light colored and very sweet, not bitter at all.
FWIW: The honey that's yielded from the Tulip Poplar tree is very dark, not light colored! It has a slightly stronger flavor as well, but not objectionably so. It's generally speaking about the same shade as a typical pancake syrup sold at stores or even darker.
The more well know SE USA and particularly light-colored honey comes from Sourwood trees. Clover and mixed wildflower honeys is sort of somewhere in between. basswood honey is a light honey. 
Disclaimer: I've never kept bees but have seen much poplar honey for sale near me, in fact it's very common as is the other types.
Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: kantuckid on August 05, 2022, 08:10:59 AM
The Audobon Society has two schools of thought toward feeding birds. Be it as it may, some feel it's not a good thing as it's against the natural order of things or however that's best said? 
Right now, I'm feeding coons my sweet corn and not by choice! :( 

 We don't feed Hummingbirds but my Wifes flower gardens and some meadow areas I never mow until after frost gives us quite a few birds and bees and butterflies galore. 
Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: Southside on August 05, 2022, 08:13:21 AM
Well I have 50 hives and we sell honey. The nectar from our poplar is an early to mid honey producer with white clover. Bees can't collect honey from red clover, and our honey from the areas heavy in Poplar is very light and sweet. Honey from areas heavy with wild flowers is darker and Buckwheat honey is practically molasses. 
Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: SwampDonkey on August 05, 2022, 04:50:43 PM
I'm no bee keeper either, but my cousin used to a few years ago. But that doesn't make me any expert. :D But I see from this group of experts that basswood honey is light colored and has a strong flavour compared to tulip tree with a darker color and milder taste. Apparently, the exception(s) to the rule that the darker the stronger the flavour. I then looked at 2 other sources on tulip honey and they say it is dark. And buckwheat honey has 20x the antioxidants than light sage honey. The more of those the darker the honey. Nothing wrong with any of it, all good. What we usually get is a light amber, locally. :) Also learned that one Tulip tree flower can have 1 tbsp of nectar in it. If I was a bee, I'd be all over it. :D

How Does Honey Get Its Color? (https://wisconsinpollinators.com/Bee/BA_HoneyColor.aspx)

As a side note, in the 50's there was a children's encyclopedia that came out of New York. One volume was dedicated to bees, both bumble and honey. And bumbles make honey to, but not all that much. They haven't got to keep a hive alive all winter, since it's the queen that lives on for next year, after she is fertilized.

Note 2: two years ago in October, I came across a disturbed nest by a rotten stump and an entrance hole wide open and a mass of bumble bees at the entrance. I assumed procreation for next years crop of bumble bees. ;D

Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: moodnacreek on August 05, 2022, 05:52:45 PM
Tulip is the largest tree in New York state. Some will argue white pine, I would say they are even.
Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: Ron Scott on August 05, 2022, 06:47:40 PM
A popular timber species harvested on the Monongahela National Forest and the Appalachian Mountain forest lands.
Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: kantuckid on August 06, 2022, 08:06:21 AM
My "poplar honey is dark comment" was based on the labels placed on local honey by beekeepers not personal beekeeping knowledge.
Being curious by nature I just googled the question which supports the fact that Yellow Poplar honey is dark colored (described as a dark red several places by beekeeper organizations) and has the strongest flavor of any varietal. I like it OK but like most honey for that matter.
Some people like that flavor others not as much. Black Locust honey is light colored and gathered in early spring too, like poplar, so may be hard to separate for some beekeepers?  Dark honeys have more antioxidants so are healthy for us.
Basswood honey is light but said to have a slight green tint (tree has white & green flowers) and changes color to an amber as it ages. It's not as lightly flavored as sourwood honey which IMO lacks much flavor. In my area Sourwood honey brings a premium.  
We are growing a cherry tomato that's called the Indigo Star Cherry Tomato which has a star where the green tops lay on the fruits top as the sun is shaded and forms the small star. They appear brown topped over dark orange to the eye but are in fact Indigo colored. I suppose the orange hue combines with indigo and forms brown to the eye? They are said to be healthy due to the antioxidants indicated by the blue.
Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: Don P on August 06, 2022, 10:02:22 AM
I've gotten the empty drums of "sourwood" honey. Quite a range, they apparently grow in Nicaragua too.
Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: Ron Wenrich on August 07, 2022, 10:11:27 AM
On value, when I first started in the sawmill end of the business, we sawed a great deal of tulip poplar.  It was more valuable than red oak.  White oak still had value as veneer, but the sawn lumber wasn't sought after.  When I first went into the procurement end in 1976, I was told not to buy red oak.  We sold it as casket lumber.

Markets turned around in the late '70s and early '80s when the open grained species, like oak and ash, became more popular.  A lot of this was due to the Boomers starting new houses, and the lower cost of the open grained species.  Eventually, the open grained species took off, and closed end species like maple, hickory and tulip poplar were no longer show woods.  Poplar is still used in interior furniture parts.  I remember helping to grade 16/4 tulip poplar that was used in Steinway pianos. 

Although tulip poplar doesn't command as high of a price as in the past, it still has a strong market.  On a per acre basis, tulip poplar will hold more usable timber than species like oak or maple.  That's due to the straightness of the tree.  A really nice red oak may have 3 usable 16' logs (many don't), where the poplar will grow 3-4 usable 16' logs.  As an added bonus, tulip poplar is resistant to many tree diseases and pests, at least in this part of the country.
Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: BrandonTN on August 09, 2022, 01:20:21 AM
The most common timber tree in western NC. Thanks for the hardwood timber value/product use history there Ron. Not necessarily the highest value/bdft but the highest overall volume!
Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: lxskllr on August 09, 2022, 01:21:12 AM
Tulip poplar makes the best survey stakes imo. Smooth finish, Light and strong as long as there aren't any defects. Oak is more tolerant to defects as far as getting them in the ground goes.
Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: Ianab on August 09, 2022, 04:03:15 AM
Although tulip poplar doesn't command as high of a price as in the past, it still has a strong market.  On a per acre basis, tulip poplar will hold more usable timber than species like oak or maple.  That's due to the straightness of the tree.


Predicting future value needs a crystal ball. What wood will be "in fashion" in ~50 year time? Thing is that we know Tulip Poplar is a decent timber tree, it should always have "some" reasonable value and established markets, and the size and form of the tree might make up for some lower bd/ft values. 

Either way, it's on the list of "good trees for future timber", with the honey and hummingbirds thrown in as a bonus in the meantime.  
Title: Re: Is Tulip timber valuable?
Post by: SwampDonkey on August 09, 2022, 04:19:57 AM
A generation ago you couldn't sell sugar maple unless it was firewood. In the late 60's a pulp market opened up. In the late 70's there was some local demand for tool wood from maple, it was a bonanza. There was big maple and good money to be made. There's still no mill in NB that makes veneer with it. There's more aspen veneer made here than any other species. Strawberry boxes. I've toured a strawberry box mill before, back 35 years ago. Just goes to show the changes and also regional differences.