Canadian Species

Canadian Species

There are more than a hundred softwood species in North America. To simplify the supply and use of structural softwood lumber, species in major lumber producing areas having similar strength characteristics are combined. Having a smaller number of combinations makes it easier for a building inspector to ensure that products having the design strengths specified by the building designer are installed. Because non-structural products are graded solely on the basis of appearance quality, non-structural products are usually sold as individual species (for example, eastern white pine, Western Red Cedar, Douglas fir).

The four species groups of Canadian lumber and their characteristics are shown below.

Species Combination: Douglas Fir-Larch
Abbreviation: D.Fir-L or DF-L
Species Included in Combination Growth Region
Douglas FirDouglas Fir  Western LarchWestern Larch vg-canspecies-Fir_Larch-map
Characteristics Colour Ranges
  • Reddish brown to yellow
  • High degree of hardness
  • Good resistance to decay
vg-canspecies-douglasfir-wood
Species Combination: Hem-Fir
Abbreviation: Hem-Fir or H-F
Species Included in Combination Growth Region
Pacific Coast HemlockPacific Coast Hemlock   Amabilis Fir Amabilis Fir vg-canspeciesmap_amabilis_fir
Characteristics Colour Ranges
  • Yellow brown to white
  • Works easily
  • Takes paint well
  • Holds nails well
  • Good gluing characteristics
vg-canspecies-colour_hemfir
Species Combination: Spruce-Pine-Fir
Abbreviation: S-P-F
Species Included in Combination Growth Region
White Spruce White Spruce Engleman Spruce Englemann Spruce   Red SpruceRed Spruce  Black Spruce Black Spruce
Jack PineJack Pine  Lodgepole Pine Lodgepole Pine Balsam Fir Balsam Fir  Alpine Fir  Alpine Fir
 vg-canspecies-map_spruce_pine_fir
Characteristics Colour Ranges
  • White to pale yellow
  • Works easily
  • Takes paint well
  • Holds nails well
  • Good gluing charateristics
 vg-can-species-colour_spf
 Species Combination: Northern Species
Abbreviation: North or Nor
 Species Included in Combination  Growth Region
 Western Red CedarWestern Red Cedar  vg-canspecies-map_western_red_cedar
Characteristics  Colour Ranges
  •  Reddish brown heartwood, light sapwood
  • Exceptional resistance to decay
  • Moderate strength
  • High in appearance qualities
  • Works easily
  • Takes fine finishes
  • Lowest shrinkage
 vg-canspecies-colour_wrcedar
 Also Included in Northern Species
 Species Included in Combination  Growth Region
 Red PineRed Pine  vg-canspecies-map_red_pine
  Characteristics  Colour Ranges
  • Works easily
 vg-canspecies-colour_red_pine2
 Also Included in Northern Species
 Species Included in Combination Growth Region
 Ponderosa PinePonderosa Pine  Growth Regions for Ponderosa Pine
 Characteristics  Colour Ranges
  •  Takes finishes well
  • Holds nails well
  • Holds screws well
  • Seasons with little checking or cupping
 Color ranges for Pondeosa Pine
 Also Included in Northern Species
 Species Included in Combination  Growth Region
 Western White PineWestern White Pine Eastern White Pine Eastern White pine  Growth regions for Eastern & Western White Pine
 Characteristics  Colour Ranges
  •  Creamy white to light straw brown heartwood, almost white sapwood
  • Works easily
  • Finishes well
  • Doeasn’t tend to split or splinter
  • Holds nails well
  • Low shrinkage
  • Takes stain, paints & varnishes well
 Color ranges for Eastern & Western White Pine
 Also Included in Northern Species
 Species Included in Combination  Growth Region
 Trembling AspenTrembling Aspen Largetooth AspenLargetooth Aspen Balsam Poplar Balsam Poplar  Growth Regions for Balsam Poplar, Trembling Aspen & Largetooth Aspen
 Characteristics  Colour Ranges
  • Works easily
  • Finishes well
  • Holds nails well
 Coulour ranges of Aspen and Balsam

The Spruce-Pine-Fir species group makes up by far the largest proportion of dimension lumber since the species in this group grow throughout most of Canada. The other major species groups for dimension lumber are Douglas Fir-Larch (N)and Hem-Fir (N). Northern Species include the other commercial species for Canadian lumber.