Liriodendron tulipifera of the family Magnoliaceae (the magnolia family) --- (See the tulip polar page for a discussion of poplar & cottonwood names and species)
This is a SUBSET of Liriodendron tulipifera, specifically that form which has colored mineral stain that is commonly designated "rainbow" poplar due to the fact that in some cases the mineral stain is multi-colored, as you can see in the pics below.
When the mineral stain is only one color, the wood should just be called "mineral stained tulip poplar", not rainbow poplar.
my samples: NOTE: these pics were all taken in very bright incandescent lighting ("soft white" at 2700K) colors will vary under other lighting conditions
"rainbow" poplar veneer sent to me by Dave Kisker, whom I thank for the contribution. This was obtained from B&B Rare Woods, who report that the last time they saw any of it prior to this batch was in the 1970's, so I assume it's pretty rare. The purple color doesn't show up quite right (it's a little too dark) on the whole piece when I corrected the color so that everything else is quite accurate, so I took a separate copy of just the purple part and corrected it.
There are some web pics down below from the same vendor, kindly sent to me by a correspondent. Also, note that someone (I can no longer remember who) told me that the color does not hold up well in this variety, and that the same is true of green poplar.
a rainbow poplar plank that Milton Schmidt, whom I thank for the contribution, was fortunate enough to find at a local store for the regular poplar price. He's made a segmented turning, shown at the bottom of this page, that really emphasizes the color variations in this form of poplar
both sides and both ends of a sample piece of rainbow poplar --- the overall dark cast of this piece supports the contention that this wood darkens with age.
segmented turning of rainbow poplar (the base is black ash, but ALL of the other segments are poplar and all are from the same plank --- part of the point of this object was to show the color variation within the plank) contributed by Milton Schmidt (the plank he made it from is pictured up above with my rainbow poplar pics).
rainbow poplar, flat cut and end grain
freshly milled rainbow poplar slabs with varying amounts of mineral stain and color variegation
a log on the mill and a closeup
rainbow poplar veneer --- fairly rare and I've been told it doesn't hold the colors well at all, but I don't know from first hand experience whether this is true or not
rainbow poplar bowl blanks
planks that were listed just as having a mineral stain, but this is the kind of stain that produces what is called rainbow poplar
quartersawn rainbow poplar with ray flakes
scales --- this really should be on the poplar page as just poplar with mineral stain since it's not variegated enough for the "rainbow" designation