Introduction: The terms hardwood and softwood are used in reference to the taxonomical division that separates a species and have little to do with how hard or soft the wood is. Balsa wood, for instance, is one of the lightest and least dense woods, yet it is classified as hardwood!
Here’s a look at what they actually are and how different these types of wood are
,Hardwood:This kind of wood is found in deciduous trees whose leaves are broad. Birch, elm, oak, teak, mahogany and maple are all examples of hardwood trees. Trees with this type of wood need flowers to pollinate and to reproduce seeds. Hardwood has a vessel element that looks similar to pores when looked at through a microscope. This enables water to reach all parts of the plant or tree. This kind of wood is used to make high quality furniture such as ship decks, wooden flooring, musical instruments,and useful items for the dining table and the kitchen such as chopsticks, bowls, baking spoons and many more.This wood is rather costly, and has a high growth rate. Hardwood trees shed their leaves in autumn and winter. Each variety of hardwood has its own properties. Their growth rate is slower than that of softwood trees, and they are larger in size. The black ironwood, a kind of hardwood, is the heaviest of its kind. These trees have strong cell walls made up of xylem a tissue in plants that help support the tree above the ground. There are four kinds of xylem cells, namely, xylem parenchyma, that are living cells, xylem fibers, tracheids and xylem vessels. The xylem dead cells look like pipes in the middle of the tree and have a hollow grid. Hardwood is more fire resistant than softwood. A few examples of hardwood are pine, eucalyptus, blue gum, redwood, giant-wood, ironwood, olive, lace-wood, and alter.
Softwood: This type of wood comes from gymnosperm trees like conifers or evergreen trees.Softwood accounts for about eighty percent of the timber produced world-wide. This wood is especially abundantin the Baltic region. Because of its limited type, it can be difficult to tell one kind of softwood from another. These trees have a cellular structure and around ninety to ninety-five percent of their cells are longitudinal;this helps a plant survive even though it may be submerged in water. Softwood is economical to work with and has a low growth rate. Trees with this kind of wood have needle like leaves, and they don’t shed these leaves. This wood contains dietary fiber and is less resistant to fire. Some examples of trees with this kind of wood are pine, Christmas trees, Douglas fir, redwood and juniper.The wood is used for making windows, paper and many more useful items. Forests that have softwood trees are prone to destruction from forest fires, which can quickly spread, especially in periods of dry weather accompanied by high winds. Such trees are found in abundance in the Pacific and northwest regions of South America. Softwood trees grow tall and straight, making it easier to cut long planks of wood that are ideal for construction activities. Softwood is often used for wall paneling and for flooring.