List of Hard Woods

The term "hardwood" distinguishes such trees as the oak from the pine and other conifers.

American Hop-Hornbeam

Floors need hard wood to support the weight of heavy furniture.Floors need hard wood to support the weight of heavy furniture.
The term arose because of the relative difficulty in cutting or sawing such trees. Some species of hardwood trees have wood that is extra hard. Handles of axes or hammers, made of such hard woods, will not break easily.

Ostrya virginiana, the American hop-hornbeam, grows throughout the eastern part of the United States and Canada, as far west as North Dakota and Wyoming. This exceptionally hard wood has earned it the nickname "ironwood." The wood makes durable handles for various tools, and it is a choice material for posts.


Various species of oaks, such as red oak and white oak, produce commercial products of great durability. The best timber trees are 60 to 90 years old, according to the University of Minnesota Forest Resources Extension. Oak wood furnishes durable material for furniture, floors and picture frames. When used for wine casks, white oak adds flavor to wines. Oak wood chips added to such beverages as cider serve the same purpose.


Various species of hickory grow in the eastern part of the United States and Canada. Carya ovata, the shagbark hickory, is the junior partner of various species of oak in oak-hickory forests. Its common name comes from the fact that its bark gradually peels off, giving it a shaggy appearance. Its hardness and durability make it an ideal wood for floors and tool handles. Other species of hickory include the shellbark hickory and the pecan tree, the state tree of Texas.


Pterocarpus indicus, the narra, grows in such tropical regions as Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. The narra has become the national tree of the Philippines, and Philippine law strictly protects the few stands of narra remaining in the wild. Filipinos prize furniture made of its durable wood, and as of 2010, few can afford its cost.


Tabebuia rosea, the macuil, grows southern Mexico, Central America and parts of South America. In folk medicine, its bark serves as a curative agent for such diseases as malaria. El Salvador honors Tabebuia rosea as its national tree. The wood "superficially resembles U.S. oak," and is used for similar purposes, according to "The Encyclopedia of Wood." Tabebuia serratifolia, a related species, has even harder wood. In tropical South America, its wood serves as material for house posts and bridges, according to the World Agroforestry Center.


Swietenia macrophylla, the mahogany tree, also grows in tropical America. The wood equals hickory in durability, but is much easier to work, according to "The Encyclopedia of Wood." Mahogany has proved to be a good tree for reforestation in the tropics.

Lebombo Ironwood

Androstachys johnsonii, Lebombo ironwood, possesses wood with sufficient strength and durability for use in bridges and supporting timber for mines. It grows in Madagascar and various parts of southern Africa. In Zimbabwe, the wood is used in the construction of huts, according to Flora of Zimbabwe.