Types of Pines

Without going into a debate on semantics, there are several species of pines and they placed into three classifications based on cone, seed and leaf characteristics:

  • White pines (also called soft pines) – often found in North America and Europe.
  • Lacebark pines – Central Asia (and Mexico for Pinyons).
  • Typical pines (also called hard pines) – mainly found in Europe and Asia.

For the pine geeks out there, the technical terms for the above classifications are subgenus Strobus, Ducampopinus and Pinus, respectively.

Only some types are commonly used for constructing furniture, such as a pine wardrobe. Let’s go through some main ones:

The first one is Scots Pine (hard pine class). This species is considered to be high altitude mountain trees growing at 1200 to 2600m altitude. It can grow up to 25m in height and have a trunk diameter of 1m at maturity. As a side note, the bark has a different texture and color between the lower and upper trunks. At the upper end, it is flaky, thin and orange, whilst on the lower end, it is has a thick, scaly dark grey, brownish feel. The color of the timber wood itself is somewhere between pale brown and red-brown (sort of red yellowish). The timber has the advantage of being light weight as well as being strong. Aside from being used to build furniture, it used to be popular as a Christmas tree back in the 1980s. They have since been superseeded by other species such as the Douglas Fir, which I’m going to cover next.

Douglas Fir trees can grow up to 120m tall.  They can take quite high loads so you can imagine that they would make a very durable wardrobe. The color of this wood ranges from light red to light yellow.

Another type of pine, also commonly used as Christmas trees, is the Norway Spruce.  These belong to the hard pine class. They can grow up to 35m tall. An interesting observation is that unlike many other pines, Norway Spruce are generally found scattered amongst hardwood trees, rather than in a pure pine forest. Again, it is strong and hence very appropriate in furniture construction. It has a pale wood color.

A fourth type is Ponderosa Pine (also called Western Yellow Pine or Bull Pine).  They mainly grow in mountainous terrains up to almost 70m tall. An interesting little fact is that the bark smells similar to vanilla. The wood has a pale yellow color with light red brown heartwood.