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”