How good is wood?

Wood is fascinating, and so are the trees it comes from, so let’s explore some of the wonderful facts about the material we use for so many things, from paper to timber frame housing.

The names softwood and hardwood refer to the types of seeds and leaves they produce rather than the strength of the wood, and there are 23000 different kinds of trees.

Due to pollution, city trees live for an average of 13 years less than trees in the countryside. Oak trees are able to exist for 500 years, and we might have had even more if Henry VIII hadn’t plundered nearly all of them for his warships.

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Some pines are more than 5000 years old, and a tree at Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire is nearer 6000 years old. If you think that can’t be beaten, a Yew Tree in Perthshire could be as old as 9000 years.

Some clever trees can even talk to each other. When pests threaten Willow trees, they send out a chemical warning to nearby trees and have time to give off tannin to ward off the invaders. Softwoods account for 80% of the world’s timber production, but softwoods are not always softer than hardwoods. Softwoods come from evergreens and hardwoods from deciduous trees. For advice from Salisbury Timber Merchants, go to Timbco.

An enormous tree in the world is called ‘General Sherman’ and is a sequoia in California. It stands at an impressive 274.9 feet with a circumference at the base of 102.6 feet! The honour of the broadest tree, however, goes to an African Baobab with a circumference of 155 feet. The world’s heaviest wood in Australia is called Bauhinia Red.

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Trees are essential for the planet’s health, and one tree can absorb 48 pounds of CO2 in a year, which is vital in the fight against climate change. The Amazon basin is the largest area of tropical forest on the planet, with a staggering 8.5 million acres. Knowing the good trees do with CO2 emissions, these forest areas must be protected. When you need timber for your next project, consider Salisbury Timber Merchants.

Wood fuel is sustainable if forests are appropriately managed and, in fact, trees never die of old age, insects, diseases, or people always kill them off. Left to their own devices, these beautiful life-giving plants would live forever.

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