Common Timber Resources

Plywood panels manufactured by Columbia Forest Products are made from common tree species that grow in abundance in the regions near our mills in the South, North and West.

Where do the trees come from?

Columbia Forest Products tries to maximize the use of tree species that are abundant in the regions near our plywood and veneer facilities. That means that we use only species that grow naturally and in great numbers in the region.

This ensures biodiversity in the ecosytem and that no particular species will be over harvested.

This is why you’ll find our plywood cores consist of poplar in the South, aspen in the North and fir or pine in the West. These are the trees that are plentiful in those regions.

To see where our most common timber resources originate, as well as a profile of each species’ characteristics, select from the list.

Aspen
Basswood
Cucumber Magnolia
Douglas Fir
Lodgepole Pine
Noble Fir
Northern Red Oak
Ponderosa Pine
Shasta Red Fir
Sugar Maple
Sycamore
Western Hemlock
White Birch
White Fir
Yellow Birch
Yellow Poplar

 

Aspen

Populus tremuloides

Also known as Quaking Aspen, Trembling Aspen, Golden Aspen

Natural Range (see above) : West – Northeast

Common Timber Resources

Form

Narrow, rounded crown with thin foliage.

Leaves

Mostly round with a short point, shiny green above and dull underneath.

Flowers

Brownish catkins with male and female flowers on different trees.

Site Requirements

Aspen thrives in northern latitudes where it receives abundant snowfall and rainfall. It prefers northern and eastern slopes in a variety soils.

Uses

Wood products made from aspen range from chips and particle board to plywood, shingles, and dimension lumber. Specialty uses are sauna benches and playground structures because aspen does not easily splinter.

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Basswood

Tilia americana

Also known as Bee-tree, American Linden

Natural Range (see below) : Midwest – Northeast

Basswood

Form

Large tree with long trunk and a dense crown of many small, often drooping branches.

Leaves

3 to 6 inches long and about as wide. They are somewhat heart-shaped with saw-toothed edges.

Flowers

About 1/2″ wide with 5 yellowish petals, fragrant in clusters in early summer.

Site Requirements

Moist soils of valleys and uplands; in hardwood forests.

Uses

The flowers are known for attracting bees and making good honey and the wood is prized for hand carving. It is also used for making crafts, veneer for plywood, furniture, and pulpwood.

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Cucumber Magnolia

Magnolia acuminata

Also known as Cucumbertree, Blue Magnolia

Natural Range (see below) : Midwest, South, Northeast

Cucumber Magnolia

Form

Tree with straight trunk and narrow crown of short, upright spreading branches.

Leaves

5 to 10 inches, elliptical and abruptly short pointed.

Flowers

2 to 3 inches long cup-shaped, with six rounded pedals that are yellow and orange that bloom in the spring.

Site Requirements

Moist, well drained soils in the Appalachian Mountains. Found in mixed hardwood forests. Found in hardiness zones 5-8.

Uses

Cucumber is usually sold as yellow-poplar. It is generally used for crates, toys, furniture, blinds, and trim. Cucumber is also used for lumber, furniture parts, rotary-cut veneer for use in plywood, and pulpwood.

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Douglas Fir

Pseudotsuga menzesii

Also known as Red Fir, Oregon Pine, Douglas Spruce

Natural Range (see below) : West

Douglas Fir

Form

Very large tree with narrow crown and drooping branches. Often reaches heights of 200 feet.

Needles

Evergreen, mostly in two rows 3/4 to 1-1/4 inches long.

Cones

2 to 3 inches and narrowly egg-shaped with 3-pointed bracts.

Site Requirements

None.

Uses

Used for lumber and plywood. Also grown for Christmas trees in the west.

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Lodgepole Pine

Pinus contorta

Also known as Tamarack Pine, Shore Pine

Natural Range (see below) : West

Lodgepole Pine

Form

Tall with narrow, dense, conical crown.

Needles

Evergreen, two in a bundle, 1-1/4 to 2-3/4 inches long.

Cones

1 to 2 inches long and remains closed on tree for many years until a fire causes them to open.

Site Requirements

Widely distributed tree that prefers high mountains and well drained soils.

Uses

Important tree species used for framing lumber, plywood, and railroad ties.

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Noble Fir

Abies procera

Also known as Red Fir, White Fir

Natural Range (see below) : Pacific Northwest

Noble Fir

Form

Conical tree with rounded crown and can reach heights over 150 feet.

Needles

Evergreen spreading in two rows, 1 to 1-1/2 inches long.

Cones

4 to 7 inches long and upright on twigs.

Site Requirements

Mountains in moist soils. Prefer cool areas with deep snowfall.

Uses

Valued for its strength compared to other firs and woods. Historically used for construction of airplanes and ladders. Still used for lumber and plywood today.

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Northern Red Oak

Quercus rubra

Also known as Red Oak, Gray Oak

Natural Range (see below) : Midwest, South, Northeast

Northern Red Oak

Form

Large tree with rounded crown of stout, spreading branches.

Leaves

4 to 9 inches long and 3 to 6 inches wide with 7 to 9 shallow, wavy lobes with bristle tipped teeth.

Fruit

Egg shaped acorns 5/8″ to about 1 1/8″. Acorns from red oaks mature in their second year.

Site Requirements

Grows best on northerly and easterly aspects on lower to middle slopes. Prefers moist, fertile soils.

Uses

Generally, the most important hardwood lumber species in the US. Used for flooring, furniture, millwork, crossties, mining timbers, veneer, and pulpwood. This species is also a popular ornamental shade tree.

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Ponderosa Pine

Pinus ponderosa

Also known as Western Yellow Pine, Blackjack Pine

Natural Range (see below) : West

Ponderosa Pine

Form

Large tree with broad, open, conical crown.

Needles

Evergreen, two or three in a bundle, 4 to 8 inches long.

Cones

2 to 6 inches long.

Site Requirements

Similar to most western conifer species that prefer deep snowfalls and high elevations.

Uses

Considered the most commercially important western pine. It is used for lumber, plywood, and is often made into doors, furniture, and other products for homes.

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Shasta Red Fir

Abies magnifica

Also known as California Red Fir, Silvertip

Natural Range (see below) : West

Shasta Red Fir

Form

Large conical tree with a rounded top and nearly horizontal branches. Often reaches 100 feet or taller.

Needles

Evergreen, spreading in two rows 3/4 to 1-3/8 inch long. They are 4-sided and blue-green with whitish lines.

Cones

Cones mature to 6 to 9 inches long and 2 to 3 inches in diameter and are found mostly in the upper crown of the tree. Shasta Fir is characterized by yellowish bracts on the cone.

Site Requirements

High mountains (above 5,000 ft) in California and Oregon in the Cascade Mountains and Coast Ranges. Prefers dry summers and deep winter snows.

Uses

Mostly used for construction and framing lumber and plywood. Red fir is also grown for Christmas trees and commonly sold as “silver tip” fir.

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Sugar Maple

Acer saccharum

Also known as Hard Maple, Rock Maple

Natural Range (see below) : Midwest, Northeast

Sugar Maple

Form

Large tree with rounded dense crown.

Leaves

3 1/2 to 5 1/2 inches long with 5 deep long-pointed lobes.

Fruit

Winged samaras, often called “helicopters” due to the spinning seed that is wind dispersed.

Site Requirements

Grows best on moist soils of uplands and valleys.

Uses

An important hardwood lumber species in the US. Maple is used for flooring, furniture, millwork, veneer, and pulpwood. The veneer is prized from this tree for the special patterns it makes such as birdseye, fiddleback, and curly maple. Maple syrup is made from this species.

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Sycamore

Platanus Occidentalis

Also known as American Planetree, Button-wood, Buttonball Tree

Natural Range (see below) : Midwest, South, Southeast, Northeast

Sycamore

Form

Usually has a massive, straight trunk with spreading, often crooked branches.

Leaves

4 to 8 inches long with 3 or 5 shallow, short-pointed lobes.

Fruit

1″ diameter cluster of nutlets that matures in autumn and falls in winter. Sycamore begins to bear fruit at about 6 to 7 years of age.

Site Requirements

Sycamore prefers wet soils along streams and swamps and is at home in flood plains and moist bottomland.

Uses

Sycamore is used for furniture parts, millwork, and specialty products such as butcher block. This species is also used for biomass, veneer in plywood, and for pulpwood.

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Western Hemlock

Tsuga heterophylla

Also known as West Coast Hemlock, Pacific Hemlock

Natural Range (see below) : West

Western Hemlock

Form

100 to 150 feet tall at maturity, with a conical crown and short drooping branches.

Needles

Evergreen in two rows, 1/4 to 3/4 inches long. Shiny dark green above with two whitish bands beneath.

Cones

3/4 to 1 inch long and hanging down on the ends of twigs.

Site Requirements

Prefers moist soils of lower slopes and often occurs in pure stands. Found along the coast in mild, humid climate.

Uses

All purpose raw material for forest industry, being used for lumber, poles, railroad ties, plywood, and pulpwood.

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White Birch

Betula papyrifera

Also known as Paper Birch, Canoe Birch

Natural Range (see below) : Northwest, Canada, Northeast

White Birch

Form

Narrow open crown with nearly horizontal branches.

Leaves

2 to 4 inches long, ovate and long pointed, with doubly saw-toothed margins.

Fruit

Drooping catkins near the tip of twigs.

Site Requirements

Grows best on moist soils of uplands and valleys.

Uses

Paper birch is used for lumber and plywood, but is also frequently used for craft materials. The bark from this species was used for the traditional birch bark canoes.

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White Fir

Abies concolor

Also known as Silver Fir, Concolor Fir

Natural Range (see below) : West

White Fir

Form

Large, wide spread tree with narrow pointed crown. Branches are symmetrical and horizontal.

Needles

Evergreen growing at right angles in two rows, 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 inches long. Light blue-green with whitish lines.

Cones

3 to 5 inches long on top most branches and have hidden bracts.

Site Requirements

Moist rocky soils, often in pure stands. Grows best in areas of deep winter snows.

Uses

White fir is used for framing lumber, plywood, and Christmas trees.

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Yellow Birch

Betula alleghaniensis

Also known as Grey Birch, Silver Birch

Natural Range (see below) : Canada, Northeast

Yellow Birch

Form

Large tree with rounded crown of drooping branches.

Leaves

3 to 5 inches long, elliptical and double saw-toothed margins.

Fruit

Drooping catkins near the tip of twigs.

Site Requirements

Grows best on cool moist soils of uplands and valleys.

Uses

Yellow birch is used for lumber and veneer in making furniture, plywood, cabinets, boxes, and interior doors. It is one of the principal hardwoods used in the distillation of wood alcohol.

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Yellow Poplar

Liriodendron tulipifera

Also known as Tulip Tree, Tulip Poplar

Natural Range (see below) : South, Southeast, Northeast

Yellow Poplar

Form

One of the tallest and straightest of the Appalachian hardwoods, with a long straight trunk and narrow crown that spreads with age.

Leaves

4 to 8 inch leaves that are distinctive in shape, usually having four short pointed lobes.

Flowers

2 to 3 inches long cup-shaped, with six rounded pedals that are yellow and orange that bloom in the spring.

Site Requirements

Yellow-poplar grows best in full sunlight on moist, well drained soils. The best growth usually occurs on north and east aspects, on lower slopes, in sheltered coves, valleys, and concave slopes.

Uses

Yellow-poplar is an extremely versatile wood with a multitude of uses such as crates, toys, and furniture. Most recent uses of the wood have been for lumber for unexposed furniture parts and core stock, rotary-cut veneer for use in plywood, and as pulpwood.

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Reference material provided by:

    • Audubon Society Field Guide to Trees Western Region, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc, New York, Copyright 1980, Elbert L. Little.
    • U.S. Forest Service Silvics Manual, Volume 1, Conifers, Agriculture Handbook 654, Russell M. Burns and Barbara H. Honkala, 1990.