What are hardwood trees? (with pictures)

An eagle carved from balsa wood, a type of hard wood.

Hardwood trees are found in many locations around the world. Hardwood trees typically produce wood that is denser than softwood trees and are often sought after for furniture making, construction, and musical instruments such as clarinets. Hardwoods that grow primarily in the tropics include lauan, ebony, teak, and mahogany. Popular European and American hardwood trees are maple, oak, cherry, beech and ash. Some special hardwood evergreen trees that grow in Europe include holm oak, holly and boxwood varieties.

Wood harvested from maple, oak and other hardwood trees is often used to produce hardwood floors.

Most hardwood trees are deciduous, meaning they have large, broad leaves that shed during fall or fall. The trees normally go dormant during the winter and the leaves regrow in the spring and summer. Hardwood evergreen tree varieties, those that keep the same leaves throughout the year, are typically found in certain subtropical and tropic locations. Most conifers (with cones) or evergreen trees fall into the softwood category.

Most hardwoods are deciduous, with leaves that change color and fall in autumn.

Trees classified as hardwood do not always produce harder wood than softwood. Both categories have strains that have such wide ranges of density that they often overlap in classification. For example, balsa is a hardwood that is generally softer than most softwoods. On the other hand, yew, a small shrub-like tree in the conifer family, is one of the hardest softwood species. However, the hardest hardwood trees are significantly harder than any types of softwood, and there are about 100 times as many classes of hardwood trees as there are softwoods.

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Cherry trees are a popular European and American hardwood.

Lumber produced from hardwood trees is most often used in building construction, furniture construction, musical instrument production, and flooring. Its beauty and durability are generally preferred over other woods, but its cost is often prohibitive for large projects. Several products advertised as hardwood are actually constructed with hardwood veneers glued to less expensive materials such as cardboard or plywood.

Although often preferred over softwoods, hardwoods cannot be interchanged as easily in manufacturing or construction. Each variety has its own fiber and growth pattern, grain consistency, density and pore size. These aspects greatly affect the flexibility of lumber from hardwood trees. Particularly in furniture making, flexibility is important when attaching legs to chair seats, a process that only certain types of wood can withstand without splitting.

One reason why wood from some hardwood trees is expensive is that some varieties have been overplanted and overharvested. Growers of some mahogany and teak species have had their tree yields greatly reduced by government restrictions designed to save these varieties from extinction. Other hardwood tree species have recently been targeted by environmental organizations to prevent threats to their survival.

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