How to Identify Hardwoods and Softwoods

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    All the basics of hardwoods

    What distinguishes hardwood from softwood is how the plant reproduces. The difference in their reproduction is closely related with their seeds structure.

    Scientifically known as angiosperms, which are plants that produce seeds with a sort of covering. Either a fruit, like a pear, or a hard shell, such as walnut.

    Hardwood trees usually are broad-leaved, but their leaves are not needled and fall every autumn and winter, as hardwoods are deciduous. Most hardwoods have a significantly high density, which is partially thanks to its slow growth rate.

    Hardwoods’ pores are of different shapes and sizes that facilitate the tree growth by allowing nutrients and water to be transported from the roots to the leaves. These pores increase their workability and density and determine the hardwood’s wood grain pattern.

    All the basics of softwoods

    Softwoods are gymnosperms, or conifers, which grow from naked seed. Their seeds fall to the ground with no covering and the plants rely on bare soil created by fire and disturbance.

    With conifer trees, seeds are released into the wind as they mature. This is an early advantage that many hardwood species don’t enjoy, as the phenomenon spreads the seeds over a wide area.

    Unlike hardwoods which have pores, softwoods instead have linear tubes, or tracheids, which generate nutrients for growth. The function of tracheids is similar to that of hardwood pores, which is to transport water, to produce sap to prevent pest invasion, and most importantly, to generate the sap for softwood tree growth. Most softwoods have a low density, which is partially because of the fact that they are fast to growth.

    Softwood trees or conifers are generally less expensive to harvest and market. Softwoods are essential in the production of dimension lumber for construction, particleboard, fibreboard plywood, pulpwood for paper, and so on.

    Further reading can be found here:

    Happy reading!

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