The term softwood is used to describe wood from conifers. It may also be used to describe these trees, which tend to be evergreen, notable exceptions being bald cypress and the larches.
Softwood is the source of about 80% of the world's production of timber, with traditional centers of production being the Baltic region (including Scandinavia and Russia) and North America. The term softwood is used as opposed to hardwood, which is the wood from angiosperm trees. Softwoods are not necessarily softer than hardwoods. In both groups there is an enormous variation in actual wood hardness, with the range in density in hardwoods completely including that of softwoods; some hardwoods (e.g. balsa) are softer than most softwoods, while the hardest hardwoods are much harder than any softwood; this is not surprising as there are about a hundred times as many hardwoods as there are softwoods. The woods of Longleaf pine, Douglas fir, and yew are much harder in the mechanical sense than several hardwoods.
Softwoods are used for a great wealth of different applications, from the construction industry right through to high class joinery. Most softwood is available far cheaper than any hardwood, this is why it is so often used. The fact that most softwoods grow much faster than hardwood may contribute to their comparative cheapness, they are easier to obtain, and tend to have less impact on the environment. conversely though, preservatives are often use offsetting the environmental advantage
Like hardwood, softwood species lend themselves to particular applications depending on their inherent qualities. European softwood is used due to its abundance and cheapness, Cedar for its durability, Douglas fir for it strength, and Quebec yellow pine for stability. In many instances softwood is the preferred choice over hardwood for these very reasons. Western red cedar is widely used for cladding due to its durability not to mention its light weight and workability.
Softwoods are conifers, which can be identified by their cones and needle-like leaves. A few examples would be pine trees and redwood trees.