The Latest

We have tried to be very diligent, re-spelling Douglas fir to Douglas-fir wherever we have found it. Douglas-fir is properly hyphenated because it is not, in fact, a fir. It is a pseudotsuga, or false hemlock (tsuga). Botanists take names very seriously, which allows botanists all over the world to speak the same language. The common names for plants are names that the rest of us remember and can easily pronounce. But these names vary for the same plant, from place to place and language to language.

There are other woods commonly used in boatbuilding that are properly hyphenated or spelled differently to distinguish them from “what they seem to be”. These would include the following, but are certainly not limited to this list.

Common spelling Correct spelling Scientific name Genus of “name”
Philippine mahogany* Philippine-mahogany shorea (various) mahogany = Swietenia
western red cedar western redcedar Thuja plicata cedar = Cedrus
Port Orford cedar Port-Orford-cedar Chamaecyparis lawsoniana cedar = Cedrus
Alaska cedar Alaska-cedar Chamaecyparis nootkatensis cedar = Cedrus
Douglas fir Douglas-fir Pseudotsuga menziesii fir = Abies

*Philippine-mahogany: The lauan genus (Shorea) contains about 70 species and their woods are extremely variable. Some are as soft as basswood while others are harder than white oak. Color may also vary from ash gray to dark reddish brown. The lumber industry markets these woods by their appearance and density characteristics rather than by species. The denser, dark red merantis have good decay resistance and are relatively stable. Most of the lauans are coarse textured and have poor decay resistance. Among boatbuilders, “dark-red” is usually specified.

As we wander through the more than 10,000 pages on the Glen-L site, we will be updating the spelling of these woods in addition to Douglas-fir. I would add that in the wood world, the specificity of the hyphenated names is only just being adapted and the “non-botanic” names are still most commonly used.


Your Thoughts?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *