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Heartwood and Sapwood on Wane Dreaming Creek Lauren McQuistionSapwood and Heartwood Illustrated on pieces of “Wane” from Dreaming Creek | Photo by Lauren McQuistion

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SAPWOOD AND HEARTWOOD /ˈsæpˌwʊd ænd ˈhɑrtˌwʊd/


Sapwood and heartwood are found within every tree, though the strength of the contrast between the two depends on the species of tree and its growing conditions.

Sapwood is the living vascular tissue of the tree through which water still flows, whereas heartwood no longer contains living cells.  Heartwood is used to store many of the specialized chemicals a tree produces (such as cyanide) hence it is often a darker color.

Manufacturers prefer to use only heartwood in their products as consumers generally do not like the color difference between the types of wood.  Therefore, to get larger boards of heartwood, larger trees have to be harvested.

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