A typical and well-known softwood (Pinus sylvestris)

The term softwood is used to describe wood from trees that are known as gymnosperms.Conifers are an example. It may also be used to describe trees, which tend to be evergreen, notable exceptions being bald cypress and the larches.

Softwood is the source of about 80% of the world's production of timber, with traditional centres of production being the Baltic region (including Scandinavia and Russia) and North America. The term is opposed to hardwood, which is the wood from angiosperm trees. Softwoods are not necessarily softer than hardwoods. In both groups there is an enormous variation in actual wood hardness, with the range in density in hardwoods completely including that of softwoods; some hardwoods (e.g. balsa) are softer than most softwoods, while the hardest hardwoods are much harder than any softwood; this is not surprising as there are about a hundred times as many hardwoods as there are softwoods. The woods of longleaf pine, douglas fir, and yew are much harder in the mechanical sense than several hardwoods.


Many American homes are built of Canadian softwood lumber

In general softwood is easy to work: it forms the bulk of wood used by humans.

See also

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • softwood — ► NOUN ▪ the wood from a conifer as distinguished from that of broadleaved trees …   English terms dictionary

  • softwood — [sôft′wo͞od΄] n. 1. a) any light, easily cut wood b) any tree yielding such wood 2. Forestry the wood of any conifer …   English World dictionary

  • softwood — /sawft wood , soft /, n. 1. any wood that is relatively soft or easily cut. 2. a tree yielding such a wood. 3. Forestry. a coniferous tree or its wood. adj. 4. of, pertaining to, or made of softwood. [1825 35; SOFT + WOOD1] * * * Timber obtained… …   Universalium

  • softwood — I. noun Date: 1809 1. the wood of a coniferous tree (as a fir or pine) whether hard or soft as distinguished from that of an angiospermous tree 2. a tree that yields softwood II. adjective Date: 1855 having or made of softwood …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • softwood — noun a) The wood from any conifer (or from Ginkgo), without regarding how soft this wood is. SYP is a softwood, but it is harder than many hardwoods. b) (in more general use) As the preceding but limited to those that are commercial timbers. This …   Wiktionary

  • softwood — UK [ˈsɒftˌwʊd] / US [ˈsɔftˌwʊd] noun [countable/uncountable] Word forms softwood : singular softwood plural softwoods a) wood that can be cut easily and is cheap to produce because it comes from trees such as pines or firs that grow quickly b)… …   English dictionary

  • softwood — noun Softwood is used before these nouns: ↑lumber …   Collocations dictionary

  • softwood — [[t]sɒ̱ftwʊd, AM sɔ͟ːft [/t]] softwoods N MASS Softwood is the wood from trees such as pines, that grow quickly and can be cut easily. Ant: hardwood …   English dictionary

  • softwood — soft•wood [[t]ˈsɔftˌwʊd, ˈsɒft [/t]] n. 1) agr. a coniferous tree or its wood 2) a) any wood that is relatively soft or easily cut b) a tree yielding such a wood 3) of or pertaining to softwood • Etymology: 1825–35 …   From formal English to slang

  • softwood — /ˈsɒftwʊd / (say softwood) noun 1. Botany any of the generally coniferous, gymnospermous trees with sieve cells for the conduction of nutrient solutions, which include pine, spruce, etc., and some trees with much harder wood. 2. (in popular use)… …   Australian English dictionary

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