Heartwood – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Tree Wood and Lumber Glossary

What is Heartwood?

Heartwood is the dense, innermost part of a tree trunk that is no longer active in the tree’s growth processes. It is formed as sapwood, the outer layer of the tree trunk, matures and transforms into heartwood. Heartwood is darker in color than sapwood and is known for its durability and resistance to decay.

What are the characteristics of Heartwood?

Heartwood is characterized by its darker color, which ranges from light brown to deep red or purple, depending on the tree species. It is also denser and harder than sapwood, making it more resistant to rot, decay, and insect infestation. Additionally, heartwood has a higher concentration of extractives, such as resins and oils, which contribute to its durability.

What are the uses of Heartwood?

Heartwood is highly valued for its strength, durability, and natural beauty, making it a popular choice for a variety of woodworking projects. It is commonly used in the construction of furniture, flooring, cabinetry, and decorative items. Due to its resistance to decay, heartwood is also used in outdoor applications, such as decking, fencing, and siding.

How is Heartwood different from Sapwood?

Heartwood and sapwood are two distinct parts of a tree trunk with different characteristics and functions. While sapwood is the outer layer of the tree trunk responsible for transporting water and nutrients, heartwood is the innermost part of the trunk that no longer conducts these functions. Sapwood is lighter in color and less dense than heartwood, making it more susceptible to decay and insect damage.

What are the common types of trees that produce Heartwood?

Many tree species produce heartwood, each with its unique color and characteristics. Some common types of trees that produce heartwood include oak, mahogany, cherry, teak, cedar, and walnut. These trees are prized for their high-quality heartwood, which is sought after for its strength, durability, and aesthetic appeal in woodworking.

How is Heartwood harvested and processed for lumber?

Heartwood is harvested from mature trees that have reached the stage where their sapwood has transformed into heartwood. The trees are felled and cut into logs, which are then processed at a sawmill to produce lumber. The lumber is typically kiln-dried to reduce moisture content and improve stability before being used in woodworking projects. Heartwood is often sawn into boards, planks, or veneers, depending on the desired application.