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What is wood anyway?

I found the following definition of wood in a "Ladies Conversational Dictionary" from the 19th century. So if you do not yet know how diverse and determining for our lives wood is, find here a linguistically successful representation: Damen-Conversations-Lexikon

Wood: The material which satisfies a hundred of our needs, which gives light and warmth to the north country, out of which the poor man builds his hut, the rich man palaces, and out of which a thousand articles of household and luxury are made.

Americans use the sugar cane for fire, Hindus the bamboo cane for the same purpose, as well as for building. The artist elicits the most beautiful sounds from wood, wood is used for paintings, woodcuts, furniture, ships, bridges, mills. Almost all objects of comfort are made of wood.

Of wood is the cradle that houses the smiling child, of wood the coffin that encloses the weary pilgrim. Daintily carved of wood are the toilet boxes, chiffoniers, knitting baskets, cases, etc. of our ladies. The art of wood carving (xylography) has provided us with excellent images by means of wood. Wood is used to make boxes, toys, book covers, organs, pianos, flutes and other wind instruments, plates, bowls, drinking vessels, bell frames, door sills, etc. The great general utility of wood and its usefulness could only be exhaustively described in a separate work.

In building, firing and carving, a distinction is made between hard and soft wood. The former is usually supplied by conifers, the latter by hardwoods.

Cherry, walnut, mahogany wood is used for elegant furniture, the durable oak wood for stairs, banisters and floors. Lignum sanctum is used by woodturners to turn iron-heavy bowling balls, and ebony is used for many ornaments. Brazilwood dyes red, campeche wood blue, sandalwood brown-red, walnut brown, yellow wood yellow, oak wood black. Wood ash is used to prepare lye, which, as potash, transforms tallow into soap. Guaiac wood, Ceylon wood, camphor wood, saint wood, colomban, culibacan, quassia, simaruka, nephitricum, sweet wood, snakewood and many others have healing powers.

The rhubarb is a wood root, the bark of the Chinese tree drives away fever and the carpenter's bark spices our food. From the bast of the wood one weaves in South America and Australia durable witness, from wood one wins cocoa, Sago, butter, milk, resin, Theer, incense, glue, vinegar etc.. From wood the Kamchadale builds his sledge, like the Indian his Kanoes. Wood is used to make letters, calico and silk printer's stamps, tambourine needles, lances, oars, pumps, roof trusses, throne chairs, carriages, ladders, etc. As timber, pine, fir and spruce are mostly used for agriculture; for hydraulic engineering only oak, which even petrifies, and the lark tree. Whole cities have been built on oak piles, e.g. Venice, whose supports last for many centuries without rotting in the water. Since Roman times, there have been single bridge piers on oak trunk frameworks in the Drava River, the piles of which are covered with inch-thick agate and gradually become completely fossilized.

Fir, spruce, linden, alder, birch, elm are usually chosen for furniture; the flame or grained woods, plum, apple, walnut and numerous American and Asian woods are used for covering (veneering). We mention here only the rose, boxwood, sandalwood, cedar, ebony, yellow, mahogany, taxus, lignum vitae and others.

Our Savior suffered and died on a wooden cross, and the wooden coffin will also be the temple of resurrection for us one day, like the silk worm's chrysalis from which it flies up as a butterfly.

Source: Damen Conversations Lexikon, Band 5. Leipzig 1834, S. 324-326, herausgegeben von Carl Herloßsohn im Verein der Gelehrten und Schriftstellerinnen.