Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hardwood vs. Softwood Trees

An amazing Oak Tree... well known "hardwood".

This is just a quick science lesson for the day. What is the difference between "Hardwood" and "Softwood" trees?

Well, it really has nothing to do with the wood being hard (dense) or soft (not dense), although that is where the terminology likely began.

Hardwood trees are angiosperms (flowering plants)... also known as broad-leafed trees, and they are mostly deciduous (lose their leaves in the winter). Hardwoods typically cook hotter and longer. Hardwoods typically are used in furniture, flooring, musical instruments, and veneers.

Examples of hardwood trees:
  • All fruit trees (apple, banana, cherry, citrus, fig, jujube, mulberry, olive, pawpaw, pear, plum, quince, etc.)
  • All nut trees (buckeye, butternut, chestnut, hickory, oak, walnut, etc.)
  • Alder
  • Ash
  • Aspen
  • Balsa
  • Basswood (aka Lime)
  • Beech
  • Birch
  • Boxelder
  • Catalpa
  • Corkwood
  • Dogwood
  • Elm
  • Eucalyptus
  • Gum
  • Hornbeam
  • Ironwood
  • Laurel
  • Locust
  • Mahogany
  • Maple
  • Poplar
  • Sassafras
  • Sycamore
  • Teak
  • Willow

A very old Yew Tree... a "softwood" species.

Softwood trees are gymnosperms (plants that have seed with no covering... "naked seeds")... also known as conifers that are evergreens (keep their leaves, or needles, in the winter). Softwoods comprise most of the world's timber supply. This is because they grow faster than hardwoods and can be quite strong.

Examples of softwood trees:
  • Cedar
  • Cypress
  • Fir
  • Hemlock
  • Larch
  • Pine
  • Redwood
  • Spruce
  • Yew


  1. LOL, What's the difference? Very serious results when cooking over a campfire or grill. Trust me, a hamburger cooked over an oak fire (when is summer going to get here!), steak over mesquite, or plank of salmon grilled over alder taste marvelously, while if you accidentally use one of the softwoods like pine or doug fir--oh yuck. :-)
    Greatly enjoy all your posts!

  2. Doug Fir works fairly well for grilling chicken, actually.

    Adds an interesting flavor.

  3. Natives have long used cedar planks for grilling salmon.

  4. Hello, I am writing a novel, I was wondering if I could use one of your pictures as my cover for my book.


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