Contrary to popular belief, the terms “hardwood” and “softwood” do not refer to how hard or soft a piece of lumber is. These terms refer to the specific group (or genus) the source tree belongs to. Hardwoods are the botanical group of trees that have broad leaves, produce a fruit or nut, and generally go dormant in the winter. On the other hand, softwoods, or conifers, from the Latin word meaning “cone-bearing,” have needles.
Below are resources that explain the differences between hardwood and softwood, as well as the suggested end uses of these lumber species.