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Hardwood trees differ from conifers (softwoods) in several important ways. Hardwood trees belong to a class of trees known as angiosperms, which means they produce seeds with some type of outside covering. This might be a fruit, such as a pear or an apple, or a nut with a hard casing such as an acorn or a pecan. By contrast, conifers are part of the class of trees known as gymnosperms, which means they produce seeds (cones) with no covering.


Also, unlike conifers, hardwood trees typically have broad leaves (not needles), some type of flower, and are usually deciduous—meaning their leaves drop in the colder months. While these rules apply in most cases, not all hardwoods are necessarily deciduous (the American holly is an evergreen, for example) and, likewise, not all conifers are evergreen (baldcypress, dawn-redwood, and larch all drop their needles). Hardwood trees offer valuable benefits to society (e.g., aspirin was originally derived from willow bark), timber products, energy savings, as well as food for people and wildlife.

The table below contains links to Hardwoods included in the 4th Edition of “Big Trees of Delaware”


Hardwood Tree Species 
Green ash Sand hickory Willow oak
White ash Shagbark hickory Bur Oak
American basswood Shellbark hickory Chestnut oak
Littleleaf linden American holly Overcup oak
American beech American hornbeam Post oak
European beech Kentucky coffeetree Swamp chestnut oak
River birch Black locust White oak
Blackgum Honeylocust Osage-orange
Ohio buckeye Bigleaf magnolia Paw-paw
Horse-chestnut Cucumber magnolia Persimmon
Sweet buckeye Saucer magnolia Eastern cottonwood
DuPont buckeye Southern magnolia Bigtooth aspen
Catalpa Sweetbay magnolia Redbud
Black cherry Red maple Sassafras
Sweet cherry Silver maple Sweetgum
Dogwood Sugar maple London planetree
American elm Black oak Sycamore
Slippery elm Laurel oak Blackhaw viburnum
Ginkgo Northern red oak Black walnut
Hackberry Pin oak Butternut
Bitternut hickory Scarlet oak English walnut
Mockernut hickory Shingle oak Yellow-poplar
Pignut hickory Southern red oak Zelkova
Pecan Water oak Unusual Trees