Product Information

Species: The Hardwoods (Red alder – Alnus rubra, Bigleaf maple – Acer macrophyllum, Western white birch – Betula papyfirera, and Trembling aspen – Populus tremuloides)


The four commercially important hardwoods grown and processed in British Columbia are Red alder (Alnus rubra), Bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum), Western white birch (Betula papyfirera) and Trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides).

Red Alder

The most plentiful hardwood on the Pacific coast, alder grows in pure stands on moist bottom land in coastal valleys.

The Wood

Varies in color from a flesh shade to a light reddish-brown with little distinction between heartwood and sapwood. It has a fine uniform texture and straight grain. Occasional pieces have prominent aggregate rays that show a pleasing pattern when the wood is quarter-sawn.

Physical Properties

Light in weight with medium strength and hardness. Low durability in moist conditions.

Working Properties

Dries readily with little degrade. Easily worked with good machining and gluing qualities and good nail and screw-holding properties. Takes paint and stain finishes well.

Bigleaf Maple

British Columbia’s only commercial maple. It grows on Vancouver Island and the adjacent islands and mainland.

The Wood

The sapwood is pinkish and the heartwood pinkish-brown. Texture is uniform and occasional pieces have highly figured, wavy grain.

Physical Properties

Moderately heavy and hard and of medium strength. Not decay resistant.

Working Properties

Seasons well with little or no degrade. Has good machining, gluing, nail and screw holding, and finishing properties.

Western White Birch

One of only two birches found in southern British Columbia. Its range extends from Saskatchewan to the Pacific Coast.

The Wood

Usually creamy white, but a brownish central core is often present. The growth-ring pattern is faint and the texture is fine and uniform.

Physical Properties

Moderate in weight, strength and hardness. Not decay resistant.

Working Properties

Seasons satisfactorily with fairly high shrinkage but little degrade. Good machining qualities and high nail and screw holding ability. Requires care in gluing. Takes a smooth finish.

Trembling Aspen

Canada’s most widely distributed hardwood. Grows from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific Coast and north to the Yukon.

The Wood

Light in color – ranging from nearly white to greyish-white. It is usually straight-grained with a fine, even texture and a faint growth-ring figuration.

Physical Properties

Light in weight with medium strength properties comparable to Western white spruce. High resistance to wear. Not decay resistant.

Working Properties

Seasons satisfactorily with moderate shrinkage. Care is required when machining to produce quality surfaces. Moderately easy to glue and holds nails and screws satisfactorily.

The Hardwoods 02
The Hardwoods 03

Commercial Availability

Widely available in all domestic and export markets.

Principal Uses

Casework, cabinetwork, industrial components, doors, architectural millwork, cutstock, veneer.


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