Softwoods, characterised by having naked seeds or as cone-bearing trees, are generally evergreen with needle-like leaves (such as conifers) comprising single cells called tracheids, which are like straws in plan, and they fulfil the functions of conduction and support. Rays, present in softwoods, run in a radial direction perpendicular to the growth rings. Their function is to store food and allow the convection of liquids to where they are needed. Examples of the UK grown softwoods include spruce (whitewood), larch, Scots pine (redwood) and Douglas fir. Softwood characteristics

• Quick growth rate (trees can be felled after 30 years) resulting in low-density timber with relatively low strength.

• Generally poor durability qualities, unless treated with preservatives.

• Due to the speed of felling they are readily available and comparatively cheaper.

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