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Why is balsa wood classified as hard wood when it is very soft and light? What is the difference between hard and soft wood?

Question #115978. Asked by star_gazer.

dsimpy star
Answer has 10 votes
dsimpy star
15 year member
141 replies avatar

Answer has 10 votes.
The terms hardwood and softwood don't relate to the weight or density of the wood, but to the tree type. Hardwood trees are angiosperms (mostly decidous in the northern hemisphere but evergreens in the southern hemisphere), while softwoods are conifers. There are many more types of hardwood trees than there are softwood.


Jul 14 2010, 4:42 AM
star_gazer star
Answer has 11 votes
Currently Best Answer
star_gazer star
22 year member
5236 replies avatar

Answer has 11 votes.

Currently voted the best answer.

The distinction between hard wood and soft wood is not in how hard and soft the wood is (that's too obvious); but, in how their seeds are formed in the trees. Softwoods, suchs as pines, spruce, and fir, are examples of gymnosperms, plants that produce seeds without covering. Hardwoods are a type of angiosperm, a true flowering plant that bears seeds enclosed in capsules, fruit, or husks. Hardwoods also tend to lose their leaves in temperate climates, whereas softwoods are evergreens; but in tropical climates many hardwoods retain their leaves.


Jul 14 2010, 10:07 AM
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