Difference between Hardwood and Softwood

Hardwood and Softwood are two types of wood with distinct characteristics and functions. The present post entitled ‘Difference between Hardwood and Softwood’ discusses the anatomical similarites and differences between these woods in detail.

Anatomically ‘wood’ is the secondary xylem of plants. Commercially there are two categories of wood based on its source. They are (1) Hardwood and (2) Softwood.

Hardwood: The wood of dicot Angiosperms is called hardwood. Hardwood and heavy since it contains plenty of wood fibres (fibre tracheids and libriform fibres).

Softwood: The wood of Gymnosperms is called softwood. The softwood mainly composed of tracheids and wood rays (parenchyma).

List of Hardwood trees: Teak, Rosewood, Mahogany, Oak, Sal-tree, Alnus, American chestnut etc.

List of Softwood trees: Araucaria (monkey puzzle tree), Cedar, Cypress, Fir (Abies), Pine (Pinus), Larch (Larix) etc.

The present post discuss the similarities and differences between Hardwood and Softwood with a Comparison Table

Similarities between Hardwood and Softwood

Ø  Both hardwood and softwood are secondary xylem.

Ø  Both contain tracheids and parenchyma.

Ø  Both are heavy and hard.

Ø  Both kinds of woods are economically valuable as timbers.

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Difference between Hardwood and Softwood

Difference between Hardwood and Softwood

Sl. No.HardwoodSoftwood
1Hardwood is the wood of dicot Angiosperms.Softwood is the wood of Gymnosperms.
2Wood is hard and heavy with a rough texture.Wood is soft and light with a fine texture.
3Wood fibres present.Wood fibres absent.
4Vessels present.Vessels absent.
5Due to the presence of vessels, hardwood is also called as porous wood.Due to the absence of vessels, soft wood is also called as non-porous wood.
6The content of traheids in the wood less.The content of tracheids in the wood more.
7Tracheid content in hardwood is 5 – 10%.The tracheid content in softwood is 90 – 95%.
8The anatomical or internal structure of hardwood is more complex than softwood.Anatomical structure of softwood is comparatively simple.
9All hardwoods are NOT best for making furniture.All softwoods are best for making furniture.

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@. Difference between Heartwood and Sapwood

@. Xylem: Structure and Composition

@. Sclerenchyma: Structure and Classification

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