Animal and Plant Genomics

Is hardwood really harder than softwood?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. Hardwoods are not necessarily harder or denser than softwoods. In fact, a wood's density doesn't influence how it's classified. The tree's seeds determine whether the wood is considered hardwood or softwood. Hardwood trees always are angiosperms; they have seeds with some sort of covering. For example, apple trees are hardwoods, and the apples cover the apple seeds. In contrast, softwood trees are always gymnosperms, which have uncovered seeds that simply fall from the trees. Conifers are gymnosperms. For example, pine trees have cones and the seeds are released into the air, via the wind, as soon as they mature. Another characteristic common to hardwood trees is that they are deciduous, losing their leaves in autumn. Softwood trees are evergreens, holding onto their leaves all year long.

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