Have you ever, at least as a child, used a trunk of a tree as a chair, maybe just to rest your aching feet during the stroll through the woods? Now, you are counting the growth rings to find out for how long the tree lived before it met its old nemesis, the axe.But have you ever wondered why the inner part of the tree is darker than the outer part? And do you know why is heartwood darker in color than sapwood?Let us start with the inner, darker part, also known as heartwood. But don"t let the name deceive you - it is not a living part of a tree. Its main function is to provide a mechanical support to the tree.

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As it grows and as the tree becomes older so does the heartwood become thicker. Heartwoods durability did not go unnoticed by skillful carpenters who use it almost exclusively for building furniture.On the other hand, sapwood, or the lighter part of the tree, will not be readily used by any kind of craftsman. It contains a lot of moisture, which makes it susceptible to fungus and it doesn"t look as rich and beautiful as heartwood.

But it still has a vital function in the tree. It transfers water and minerals from the roots to the every leaf which decorates the crown of the tree.


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Table of Contents

Age of the Tree

Plant Anatomy


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These chemically changed substances known as extractives are very rich in color and the main reason why the heartwood is, usually, much darker than the sapwood.


The main reasons are extractives, or as we got to know them chemically altered minerals, oils, and resins. Contributing factor is, of course, less water in the heartwood.

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As we saw the age of the tree can incite difference in color not only between sapwood and heartwood, but also within different areas of the heartwood itself.The growth rings, especially those densely packed during autumn and winter, can cause even greater color differences, within the heartwood, but also between heartwood and sapwood. Those little balloons in the heartwood called tyloses also make an interesting pattern, never to be found in the sapwood.Now that you know why is heartwood darker in color than sapwood, we are sure you will make the right choice while selecting a wood type.