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Wood Species

Wood Species

In this section, each species or group of species is described in terms of its principal location, characteristics, and uses. Information on historical and traditional uses is also provided for some species. Common and botanical names follow the Checklist of United States Trees (Little 1979).

The domestic lumber list identifies wood that is produced domestically in North America.

The imported lumber section does not purport to describe all the woods imported into the United States or Canada. It includes only those species that at present are considered to be commercially important. The same species may be marketed in the United States and Canada under other common names. Because of the variation in common names, many cross-references are included.

Note that the terms hardwood and softwood are often confused with the descriptors hard wood or soft wood. The terms softwood and hardwood are used to reference the taxonomical division that separates a species and have little to do with the actual hardness of the wood. 

  • Hardwood trees have broad leaves and are deciduous – they lose their leaves at the end of the growing season. 
  • Hardwoods are angiosperms – using flowers to pollinate for seed reproduction. 
  • Oaks, maples, birches and fruit trees are examples of hardwood trees. 
  • Softwood trees are conifers (evergreens), have needles or scale-like foliage and are not deciduous. 
  • Softwoods are gymnosperms, meaning they do not have flowers and use cones for seed reproduction. 
  • Examples of softwoods include pines, spruces, firs and hemlocks 

Imported Hardwoods


Wood identification for hardwood and softwood species native to Tennessee, Bond, B., University of Tennessee. Agricultural Extension Service, Agricultural Extension Service, University of Tennessee