When it is remembered that the suitability of
wood for a particular purpose depends most of all upon its
internal structure, it is plain that the woodworker should know
the essential characteristics of that structure.
While his main interest in wood is as lumber,
dead material to be used in woodworking, he can properly
understand its structure only by knowing something of it as a
live, growing organism.
To facilitate this, knowledge of its position in
the plant world is helpful.
Under the division of naked-seeded plants
(gymnosperms), practically the only valuable timber-bearing
plants are the needle-leaved trees or the conifers, including
such trees as the pines, cedars, spruces, firs, etc.
Their wood grows rapidly in concentric annual
rings, like that of the broad-leaved trees; is easily worked,
and is more widely used than the wood of any other class of
fruit-bearing trees (angiosperms), there are two classes, those
that have one seed-leaf as they germinate, and those that have
The one seed-leaf plants (monocotyledons)
include the grasses, lilies, bananas, palms, etc. Of these there
are only a few that reach the dimensions of trees. They are
strikingly distinguished by the structure of their stems.
They have no cambium layer and no distinct bark
and pith; they have unbranched stems, which as a rule do not
increase in diameter after the first stages of growth, but grow
Instead of having concentric annual rings and
thus growing larger year by year, the woody tissue grows here
and there thru the stem, but mostly crowded together toward the
where there is radial growth, as in yucca, the structure is not
in annual rings, but irregular. These one seed-leaf trees
(monocotyledons) are not of much economic value as lumber, being
used chiefly "in the round," and to some extent for veneers and
inlays; e. g., cocoanut-palm and porcupine wood are so used.
The most useful of the monocotyledons, or
endogens, ("inside growers," as they are sometimes called,) are
the bamboos, which are giant members of the group of grasses.
They grow in dense forests, some varieties often 70 feet high
and 6 inches in diameter, shooting up their entire height in a