Most commonly, tulipwood
is the pinkish yellowish wood yielded from the tuliptree
Liriodendron tulipifera, commonly known as the tulip tree, American tulip tree, tuliptree, tulip poplar or yellow poplar, is the Western Hemisphere representative of the two-species genus Liriodendron, and the tallest eastern hardwood...
, found on the Eastern side of North America and also in some parts of China. In the United States, it is commonly known as tulip poplar or yellow poplar, even though the tree is not related to the poplar
Populus is a genus of 25–35 species of deciduous flowering plants in the family Salicaceae, native to most of the Northern Hemisphere. English names variously applied to different species include poplar , aspen, and cottonwood....
s. In fact, the reference to poplar is a result of the tree's height, which can exceed 100 feet. The wood is very light, around 490kg per cubic meter, but very strong and is used in many applications, including furniture, joinery and moldings. It can also be stained very easily and is often used as a low-cost alternative to walnut and cherry in furniture and doors.
Brazilian tulipwood is a different species. A classic high-quality wood, it is very dense with a lovely figure. It is used for inlays in furniture and for small turned items. Available only in small sizes, it is rarely used in the solid for luxury furniture. Like other woods with a pronounced figure it is rather strongly subject to fashion.
In the nineteenth century Brazilian tulipwood was thought to be the product of Physocalymma scaberrima
, but in the twentieth century it became clear it was yielded by a species of Dalbergia
Dalbergia is a large genus of small to medium-size trees, shrubs and lianas in the pea family, Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. The genus has a wide distribution, native to the tropical regions of Central and South America, Africa, Madagascar and southern Asia...
. At some point it was misidentified as Dalbergia frutescens
Dalbergia frutescens is a species of shrub distributed along the Atlantic coast of South America. A synonym is Dalbergia variabilis. Its habit is variable, usually being a liana....
, a misidentification which can still be found in books aimed at the woodworker. For some decades it has been known to be yielded by Dalbergia decipularis
, a species restricted to a small area in Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...
There also exists the Australian "tulipwood", the common name of Harpullia
Harpullia is a genus of 37 species of small to medium-sized trees in the soapberry family Sapindaceae. It was first defined by Scottish botanist William Roxburgh in 1824. They have a wide distribution ranging from India eastwards into the Pacific Ocean...
. Certain varieties of Harpullia
were prized for their dark coloured timber. The one most commonly known to horticulture is H. pendula
which is widely planted as a street tree along the east coast of Australia.