Firewood Treasures

McDaniel College Yellow Poplar
(Liriodendron tulipifera)

In 1999, McDaniel College completed Eaton Hall, its new science building. In order to make way for this new construction, several years earlier three towering, 60 year old Yellow Poplar trees were taken down. The boles (trunks) of these trees were hauled to a local sawmill where they were cut into ten foot planks (4” thick, 14 “ wide).

Yellow poplar is a fast growing tree that rapidly dominates its landscape. It is commonly referred to as the tulip poplar, an understandable misnomer give the shape of its blooms in springtime.

The wood from this tree is sometimes found to be highly figured, with brilliant streaks of pink, purple, and blue. The figuring in this particular tree was it’s response to years of service as a living laboratory. Each year, from one of the trees, botany students would extract a 1/4” core to be used for dating the tree (by counting its rings). To protect itself from infection, the tree reacted by producing extractives in the area of the injury. As years passed, these highly colored substances migrated to the surrounding wood, giving it its highly unique pattern of figuring. When freshly cut, this wood abounded in streaks of pink, blue, and purple. With time, those colors mellow to a rich array of chocolate and brown.

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