Softwood is any lumber that comes from conifer, or gymnosperm, trees. This means trees that have uncovered seed; for example, “pines, spruce, cedar, fir, larch, Douglas-fir, hemlock, cypress, redwood, and yew” are all softwoods. Hardwoods, however, are the opposite and come from trees that produce seeds with covering. These are known as deciduous, or angiosperm, trees. These trees usually lose their leaves while most softwoods keep their leaves (or needles) year round. It is a misconception that hardwoods are stronger than softwoods. In fact, most building is done with fir (which is a softwood).
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