Hardwood: the most important types of wood

By far the most trees worldwide are deciduous trees. The main European and American deciduous trees whose wood we use are listed in the table below. Tropical woods are also almost always deciduous trees - a list of the most important species can be found in the lower part of the article.

List of the most important domestic and American hardwood species

Speciesancestrystrength propertiesweatherproofresistant to fungal and insect infestationuseother names
mapleEuropemedium strength, elasticNoNoParquet, furniture, veneer, musical instruments
acacia woodEuropevery hard (harder than oak), good elastic strengthvery wellvery wellConstruction timber, Garden furniture, Outdoor use, Mining, ShipbuildingRobinia (Acacia wood is the usual name for Robinia wood)
ApplewoodEuroperelatively hard, very denseNoPests: yes Mushrooms: noVeneers for furniture, toys, carving and turning work
Birch woodEuropefirm, hard, tough-elasticNoNoVeneers (furniture), parquet, firewood, crafts, aircraft
pear woodEuroperelatively hard, very firmNoNoquality veneers, handicrafts, black occasionally stained as a substitute for ebony
beech woodEuropeheavy, hard and dense, not very elasticNoNoVeneers, furniture, parquet, firewood, most important wood used in GermanyHornbeam provides a different wood (hardly used)
BoxwoodEurope too tropical (Asia, North Africa)very heavy, tough, stable, elasticWellvery wellMusical instrument making, handles and tools
rowanEuropeheavy but only moderately hard, elasticNoNoTurning works, scales (because of high dimensional accuracy), musical instrumentsElsbeere
Oak woodEuropehard and heavy, sustainableYesquite goodVeneers, furniture making, parquet, load-bearing constructions (beams), firewood, window construction
Elsbeere-woodEuropeheavy, medium hardness, elasticNoNoMusical instruments, measuring instruments also scales (due to dimensional accuracy) for turningrowan
alderEuropegood firmness, light and soft, not very elasticNoNoModel making, carving, imitation of other types of wood, also for pencils and wooden shoes
ash woodEuropehard, firm, very elastic, toughlittleNoespecially for handles and stems, also limited as plywood
Laburnum woodEuropemoderately heavy, moderately firmsomethingvery wellbarely used except in arts and crafts and musical instruments
HickoryUSA, Canadahard, tough-elasticlittlelittleVeneers, furniture, also sports equipment, shafts, stemsMockernut, Pignut
chestnutEuropenot heavy, relatively softNoNoArts and crafts, toys, including orthopedic equipment, pianosMaroon wood is the wood of the sweet chestnut, while chestnut wood comes from the horse chestnut
cherry woodEuropeonly moderate hardness but good elasticity propertiesNoNohigh-quality veneers (furniture and interior design), partly musical instruments, also in the arts and crafts
basswoodEuropesoft, elastic, but toughlittleNoArts and crafts, Musical instrument making, Drums, Toys
walnutEuropehigh hardness, high weight, stablelittlepartly (only European trees moderately resistant)Furniture construction, parquet, veneers, high-quality shafts (rifles)
olive woodMediterranean, but also tropical (Africa, India, Australia)hard and very tightNoNoHandles, hardware, arts and craftsMutenye (African variant)
poplarEuropesoft, relatively lightNoNomainly industrial, but also as blind wood and for lightly loaded constructions, sometimes for wooden shoes
sycamore woodEuropehard and toughNoNoFurniture making, interior fittings, barrels, some instruments
robinia woodEuropevery hard (harder than oak) while elasticvery wellvery wellConstruction timber, Garden furniture, Outdoor use, Mining, ShipbuildingAcacia wood is the common name for robinia wood in this country
elmEuropemedium hardness, medium weightno (except in the earth and in the water)NoVeneers, furniture, parquet, popular carved woodelm
Holly Woodworldwidehard and hardNoNohardly used, mainly woodturning and handicrafts, for woodcutsSchradler wood (Austria), winter berry wood
elm woodEuropemedium hardness, medium weightno (except in the earth and in the water)NoVeneers, furniture, parquet, popular carved woodthe wood of the field elm is called Rüster
willowEuropelight and soft, flexibleNoNobarely used, only carvings, dowsing, traditional basketry (wicker)
Whitewoodtoday Europe originally USAgood strength, yet lightbarelybarelyInterior fittings, furniture parts, moldings and profiles, packaging materialYellow Poplar, Canoe tree, Tulip tree, Tulip poplar

Tropical hardwoods

Even tropical woods are always hardwoods. Here is a list of the most important tropical timber species:

Speciesregion of originalternative names
Abachi woodAfricaSamba, Obeche, African Whitewood, Ayous
AburaAfricaBahia, Elelome, Elelon, Mukonia, Subaha
afrormosiaAfricaAndejen, Asamela, Ayin, Bohala, Egbi, Kokrodua, Mohole, Obang, Wahala
afzeliaAfrica and AsiaApa, Chamfuta, Lingue, Ovala
Agathis woodPacific Rim
Amaranth woodCentral AmericaViolet wood, Purpleheart
Angelique-woodSouth Americaalso called Basralocus
balsawoodSouth America, Central America
Bankiraiholzespecially AsiaWhite Seraya, Yellow Balau, Selangan batu, Merawan, Keruing (also a separate species of wood, hence a misleading name)
BasralocusSouth AmericaBasralocus is another name for Angelique wood
BilingaAfricaAkondoc, Kusia, Linzi, Mocesse, Opepe
Bongossi woodAfrica
Bubinga woodAfricaEbana, eating entrance, Waka
Cedro-woodLatin America
Ceiba woodAfrica and Asia, also South AmericaFuma, Sumauma, Kakantrie, Onya, Fromager, Araba, Banda, Doum
Cocobolo woodCentral AmericaGrenadillo, Rio Rosewood, Palo Sando, Nambo
DibetouAfricaAlona Wood, Apopo, Bombolu, Embero, Penkwa, Mukusu and additionally different regional names in numerous African languages
ebonyAfrica and AsiaCoromandel, Marblewood, Massakar
eucalyptus woodAsiaBlue gum, Globulus
GrenadilAfricaAfrican Blackwood
Hevea woodAsiaRubber tree wood, rubber tree wood
ImbuiaSouth America (Brazil)Brazilian walnut
Ipe woodSouth America, Central AmericaLapacho, Guyacan
Iroko woodAfrica and Asiais also called Africa teak or Mvule, occasionally Mokongo, Odum or Kambala
Jarrah woodAustralia
Kauri woodPacific Rim
Kempas-woodSouth East Asia
KeruingAsiaYang, Dau, Kanyin, Eng, In
Koto woodAfricaAnatolia (when muted), Ake, Ikame, Awari
Limba wood [link]AfricaAfara white (common), Akom, also Okram
[link u = macore] MacoreAfrica
mahoganySouth and Central America
MansoniaAfricaPrayer (French Language) Aprono, Oful
Massaranduba woodSouth America, CaribbeanBulletwood, Beefwood, Nisperillo, Balata rouge, Horsemeat Wood
Meranti woodSouth East Asiaalso sold as Bangkirai, Seraya
Merbau woodSoutheast Asia, Pacific, MadagascarBorneo teak, Kwila
MutenyeAfricaOlive wood tree (african)
OkoumeAfrica and Asia, also South AmericaGabon Mahogany
PadoukAfrica and AsiaPadoek, Corail, Barwood
jacarandaAfrica and AsiaSheesham is also a Palisanderholzart
lignum vitaeSouth America
Ramin woodBorneo, Philippines
rosewoodSouth AmericaBrazilian Tulipwood - "Rosewood" is a name for rosewood
snakewoodSouth AmericaLetters wood, Snakewood
Sheesham woodAfrica and Asia
Sucupira-woodSouth America
Tineo-woodSouth America)
WengeAfricaAwong, Bokonge, Ntokc
WengeAfricaAwong, Bokonge, Ntokc

Tips & Tricks

To find out more about a species of wood, simply click on the respective link. You will then get to a post with all important details about the wood species.

Video Board: The most popular choices of wood species for hardwood flooring