Difference Between Hardwood and Softwood (With Table)

Wood is one of the most widely used objects of nature, and it is also known as the secondary xylem of plants. Wood is mainly classified based on its composition, structure, and time of production. Hardwood and Softwood comprise parenchyma for certain functions, for instance, photosynthesis, secretion, and storage. Both Hardwood and Softwood are a part of the wood and may seem very similar to each other, but they are extremely different from each other.

Hardwood vs Softwood

The difference between Hardwood and Softwood is that Hardwood is obtained from the woods of dicot angiosperm trees or flowering plants, while Softwood is obtained from the woods of monocot gymnosperms trees. The main water transporting element in angiosperms called vessels are present in Hardwood, while it is absent in Softwood.

Hardwood is hard and complex, with an uneven texture. It is obtained from the trees of dicotyledon angiosperm or flowering plants. Hardwood has a more complicated structure with high density. Hardwood consists of vessels and tracheids that transport water to different parts of the angiosperm. Vessels present in Hardwood are known as the characteristic feature of angiosperms.

Softwood is soft with a light texture. It is obtained from the trees of monocotyledon gymnosperms or non-flowering plants. Softwood has a simple and light structure with less density. There is no presence of vessels in Softwood. Hence instead of vessels, more tracheids are present that transports water to different parts of the gymnosperms.

Comparison Table Between Hardwood and Softwood

Parameters of Comparison HardwoodSoftwood
AnatomyHardwood has a hard, complex, and large structure with an uneven texture.Softwood has simple, uniform, and light with an even structure with less density.
Water TransportVessels and tracheids transport water in Hardwood.Tracheids transports water in Softwood.
Plant WoodHardwood is from angiosperm or flowering plants.Softwood is from gymnosperms or non-flowering plants.
ResistanceHardwood has greater resistance to both heat and environmental changes.Softwood has very low resistance to both heat and environmental changes.
Color Hardwood is darker in color.Softwood is lighter in color.
CostHardwood is expensive.Softwood is cheap.
ExamplesEucalyptus, teak, oak, and maple.Sequoia, maidenhair tree, pine, and cedar.

What is Hardwood?

Hardwood is obtained from the woods of angiosperm or flowering plants. In angiosperm or flowering plants, the seeds are covered by fruits. They range in size from tiny plants to the tallest trees. Hardwood has a hard, complex, and large structure with an uneven texture. It is darker in color due to the deposition of chemical substances.

Hardwood is a dicotyledon angiosperm. It has two cotyledons in its seeds, and fertilization is through pollination. Hardwood has a diplontic life cycle with a double fertilization process as there is an involvement of two fusions.

Hardwood transports water in different parts of the tree through transporting elements called vessels and tracheids. Vessels and tracheids are elongated, long cylindrical tube-like cells or structures with thick, lignified walls without protoplasm. Tracheids are present very less, and vessels are more in Hardwood. Vessels are known as the characteristic feature of angiosperms, and due to the extremely large amount of vessels in Hardwood, it is known as porous wood.

Hardwood is used to make musical instruments such as violins, harmonium, and piano, manufacturing furniture, sports goods, rifle parts, and gun.

What is Softwood?

Softwood is obtained from the woods of gymnosperms or non-flowering plants. In gymnosperms, the ovules are not covered by the ovary, and they remain unprotected before and after fertilization. They vary in different sizes, from medium-sized trees to tall trees. Softwood has a simple, uniform, and light structure with less density and less resistance to both heat and environmental changes.

Softwood is lighter in color due to less deposition of chemical substances. Softwood is a monocotyledon gymnosperm or non-flowering plant. It has only one cotyledon. Softwood roots are mostly taproots, and the leaves present may be simple or compound leaves. Softwood has a diplontic life cycle, and during fertilization, the zygote develops into an embryo and the ovules into seeds.

Softwood transports water and minerals through a transporting element called tracheids. Tracheids are long, broad, and wide tube-like structures with heavy, thickened walls. In softwood, there is a negligible presence of tracheids. Due to its absence, it is known as non-porous wood.

Softwood grows faster and is easily available and cheap. Softwood is a widely used product in the pencil industry, match industry, and music industry. It is also used as agricultural implements, battery separators, manufacturing of aircraft timber, furniture, shoe heels, and musical instruments.

Main Differences Between Hardwood and Softwood

  1. Hardwood is obtained from the woods of angiosperm or flowering plants. On the other hand, Softwood is obtained from the woods of gymnosperms or non-flowering plants.
  2. Hardwood is a dicotyledon angiosperm. On the other hand, Softwood is a monocotyledon gymnosperm.
  3. Hardwood transports water through vessels and tracheids. On the other hand, Softwood transports water through tracheids.
  4. Hardwood has a hard, complex, and large structure. On the other hand, Softwood has a simple, uniform, and light an even structure
  5. Hardwood is darker in color. On the other hand, Softwood is lighter in color.
  6. Hardwood tends to grow very slowly. On the other hand, Softwood tends to grow fastly.
  7. Hardwood is expensive. On the other hand, Softwood is cheap.

Conclusion

Wood is the most commonly used natural product. Wood is necessary for basic needs such as housing, fire, and other equipment. There are different types of wood based on their composition, structure, and time of production. Hardwood and Softwood are the two generally used wood worldwide. Hardwood is obtained from the woods of angiosperm and is hard, complex, and large in structure with an uneven texture. Hardwood is expensive and darker in color. Softwood is obtained from the woods of gymnosperms and is simple and uniform in structure. Softwood is cheap and has a pink or light color.

Both Hardwood and Softwood have great importance due to the high demand in large-scale industries. Although they are similar in many aspects, they are different too.

References

  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00833502
  2. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acssuschemeng.6b01205
  3. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12649-020-00955-0
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