Softwood is wood from gymnosperm trees such as conifers. The term is opposed to hardwood, which is the wood from angiosperm trees. Softwood trees have needles and exposed seeds, but do not have leaves.
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. The woods of longleaf pine, douglas fir, and yew are much harder in the mechanical sense than several hardwoods.
Certain species of softwood are more resistant to insect attack from woodworm, as certain insects prefer damp hardwood.
Softwood is the source of about 80% of the world's production of timber, with traditional centres of production being the Baltic region (including Scandinavia and Russia), North America and China. Softwood is typically used in construction as structural carcassing timber, as well as finishing timber.