What is a hardwood?

At first glance it would be easy to assume that all wood is hard.  But, there are two different types.  It is something of a misnomer to say that all hardwoods are naturally hard.  For example balsa  wood is one of the softest and easily breakable types of wood that is mainly used for modelling,  It is actually classed as a hardwood.  Whereas is Pine, which is rock solid, is classed as soft. So, what actually is a hardwood and why is it classified in this way.

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Wood is broken down into 2 categories soft and hard.  Simply put hardwoods are deciduous trees.  These are trees that shed their leaves in the autumn.  They are quite easy to spot as from November through to February they are pretty devoid of any Leaf coverage but you can see the small beginnings of new buds.  Soft goods can be distinguished by the fact that they do not lose their leaves.  They are also classed as Evergreens.

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The other factor involved with hardwood is it produces fruit as opposed to Acorns or nuts.  They do this to allow themselves to be pollinated and spread on a wider area than softwoods.  In fact this is one of the most incredible evolutionary jumps that any flora has made.  It enables the hardwoods, or angiosperms to give them their correct name ,to be widely spread throughout the country by pollinating insects.  In this way they began to dominate the Landscape over the softwood or gymnosperms.  This changed 30 million years ago and is still being felt today. Examples are Oak, Beech and Ash.  It is likely that the Oak roof truss in your home is one such example.

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