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Specie or Species? Is it Wood or Currency?

Specie or Species? Is it Wood or Currency?

  • March 23, 2015
  • by Ang Schramm

hardwood plywoodAnyone familiar with me is aware that one of my pet peeves is the use of the word “specie” as it applies to an individual “species” within a given genus of trees. I thought I would revisit this topic in this issue, and that the best way to do so would be to refer to an article I had saved from the July/August 1984 edition of the now defunct Wood Unlimited, Indianapolis, IN, Newsletter entitled “Wood Men Should Know Their Species.” Inasmuch as I have a collection consisting of mounds of trivial material relating to wood dating back to March of 1980, it took more time to find the aforementioned article than it will to write this column…

Here ya go:

With apologies to Wood Unlimited and any currently active businesses that supported the effort, here is the article in its entirety, with no editorial changes in grammar, punctuation, or content on my part.

“Here’s a note of caution to wood industry men, who can find themselves easily trapped into using incorrect industry terminology.

For years we’ve all heard the word “species” used in its plural form – logically so, since several kinds of trees are generally involved in such discussions. This is proper. The plural form of the word (“species”) should always be used when the trees are in the plural!

 But this same word “species,” in the plural, also applies even when we’re talking about just one very lonesome little tree, or one kind of wood. Putting it bluntly, if we’re talking about wood, there is no singular form for the word “species.”

True, the dictionary shows the word “specie” in its singular form, but in its singular for the word means “money.” Always money. Never trees (or tree).

Also true: For thousands of years wood men have tried to get “money” and “trees” closer together. But apparently even Webster felt that we’d do better to just roll up our sleeves and go to work at it in some way other than changing the English language.”

All due respect to the writer of the above, the only comment I would make for clarification’s sake is to add the fact that the word “species” is correctly used as singular and plural with reference not only to the species of trees, but to any given species or group of species of any life form on earth, whether plant, animal, or any living organism that may or may not fall into either of these categories.

Additionally, the word “specie” refers not only to money or “in kind,” but more specifically to a denomination of currency, most often to coin.

So there you have it!

In closing:

Maple is a species. Birch is a species. Yellow poplar is a species. Together they comprise three species commonly used in the production of decorative hardwood plywood panels. They are available on the open market for appropriate amounts of money, payable, of course, in specie!

Until next time, my best to all!


Ask Ang

Got a question about hardwood plywood or veneers? Feel free to ask Ang for an answer. Send your question to ashramm@cfpwood.com