Wednesday, August 22, 2012

more on the library poplar...

Poplar shown on cover of 1982 Library Cookbook
Yesterday the poplar tree in front of the library was cut down, and I was there to give advice as to the dimension of the logs and where they were to be cut so they would be of use in a project benefiting the library. Now the political realities of life in Eureka Springs have struck home, and nothing is to be done with the logs and limbs until the city attorney has given his go-ahead. The tree was on city property, removed at city expense, and the logs evidently are owned by the city, even though without my intersession, they would likely have been cut into small chunks and of no use to a soul.

That is the way of politics in Eureka. Those of us who have been around awhile know that things that could be easy will not be.

So, we are waiting for the Mayor and city attorney to rule on the disposition of materials before launching a project to benefit the library.

Those who are in love with wood will find George Barrell Emerson's 1878 book,
A Report on the Trees and Shrubs Growing Naturally in the Forests of Massachusetts of immense value. Unfortunately, the Tulip or Yellow Poplar was not native to Massachusetts and missed being covered in Emerson's excellent volume which can be downloaded from Google Books. But you will find many other common species illustrated and discussed.

With regard to Poplars in general, Emerson notes:
‘Evelyn calls the poplars “hospitable trees, for any thing thrives under their shade.”
Even libraries… He continues,
“The wood was used by the ancients for he purpose of making bucklers, as it is very light and somewhat tough; and thence it is not broken, pierced or splintered by a blow, but only indented. “The wood of the polar is soft, light and generally white or of a pale yellow. It is of but little use in the arts, except in some departments of cabinet and toy-making, and for boarded floors; for which last purpose it is well adapted, from its whiteness and the facility with which it is scoured, and also from the difficulty with which it burns. In these respects, it is the very reverse of pine. Poplar, like other soft woods, is generally considered not durable; but this is only the case when it is exposed to the external atmosphere, or to water; and hence the old distich, said to be inscribed on a poplar plank, --

‘Though heart of oak be e’er so stout,
Keep me dry, and I’ll see him out.’

May be considered as strictly correct.

According to Dwight Moore's Trees of Arkansas, the Tulip, or Yellow Poplar is native to Arkansas only along Crowley's Ridge and can grow to a height of 150 ft. with a diameter of 7 feet. So ours was puny in comparison to the great poplars of the Eastern United States. It is suggested useful for all purposes, and at one point in the 1930's the library had decided one would be beautiful in front.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Look at it in a positive way:
    If the fate of a downed public owned tree is one of the biggest problems the Mayor of Eureka Springs has got, then it must be a very nice place to live.
    I hope the tree will end up being made into something other than firewood.

  2. Ah, politics. I had the same experience here talking to the parks commissioner, who was cutting up downed trees into firewood. And when trees were actually cut into usable logs they always seemed to go to people who were better connected politically.