Difference Between Compression Wood and Tension Wood (Full Details)

Reaction wood is wood that has specific characteristics, such as special growth patterns and other such properties. As the name implies, reaction wood is generated as a result of its’ reaction ‘to numerous environmental elements such as wind, pressure, climate, gravity, and many others. The stress caused by the environment causes special growth patterns that are commonly observed on branches and trunks of diverse trees. Reaction wood is classified into two types:

  • Compression wood
  • Tension wood

The primary distinction between compression and tension wood is that compression wood is response wood of conifers, whereas tension wood is reaction wood of dicots.

Difference between Compression Wood and Tension Wood

What is Compression Wood?

Compression wood is a wood response that occurs on the bottom side of the trunk of conifers. The wood has a lot of lignin components, which is presumably why it is so strong.

Aside from that, the wood does not have a pith at the center but rather well above the center point, indicating development.

Compression wood is typically formed in the area of a tree that is under the most pressure. Compression is unlikely to form if the wood is bending and cracking.

As a result, compression wood aids in the lengthening and straightening of a wood bent. This is critical for keeping a specific bend angle.

What Is Tension Wood?

Tension wood is a wood response that occurs primarily in dicots, particularly on the upper section of the trunk that bends.

The good news is that tension wood contains more cellulose than compression wood, which helps it resist bending.

Most hardwoods have tension wood, which prevents the plant’s branches from drooping or bending.

The reaction of the wood generally happens on plants that are frequently subjected to pulling forces in order to provide support.

Comparison Table (Compression vs Tension Wood)

Basic TermCompression WoodTension Wood
DescriptionDevelops on the bottom side of the trunk’s leaning.Develop on the leaning trunk’s upper side.
Amount of Cellulose30%60%
FoundSoftwood like pinesHardwoods like oaks
Reaction of WoodConifersDicots
FunctionLengthening and straightening bendsPrevent the branch from bending or drooping as a result of pulling force.
Examples of WoodPinewoodMango woods
Type of PlantsGymnospermsAngiosperms

Key Differences Between Compression and Tension Wood

  • Conifers on the lower side of the trunk experience compression wood, while those on the top side of the leaning trunk experience tension wood.
  • When compared to tension wood cellulose, compression wood has less cellulose.
  • Tension wood is common in gymnosperms, but compression wood is abundant in angiosperms.
  • Compression wood is widespread in conifers such as pines, but tension wood is found in mango trees.
  • Tension wood prevents the branch from drooping owing to pulling power, but compression wood lengthens and straightens bends.

Similarities Between Compression and Tension Wood

  • They are both reaction wood
  • Both occur in trees.
  • Both have cellulose.


What is the difference between compression wood and tension wood?

Compression wood develops on the undersides of branches and contains more lignin than regular wood. Compression strength is enhanced in wood with a high lignin content. Tension wood develops on the upper edges of hardwoods and contains more cellulose than regular wood.

Is wood stronger in tension or compression?

Tensile strength is substantially higher than compression strength parallel to the grain.

What are the two types of reaction wood?

Compression wood in softwoods and tension wood in hardwoods are the two types of reaction wood. When compared to regular wood, compression wood has more lignin and less cellulose and galactoglucomannan, whereas tension wood has more cellulose.

What is tension wood in a tree?

Angiosperms have tension wood on the top side of leaning stems and branches. It has more cellulose and less lignin than regular wood, and the fiber structure is noticeably different.


Compression and tension wood are important in their respective plants. As previously said, they have some close parallels and minor differences.

I hope you found the information beneficial in your research. Please take the time to share your thoughts or experiences in the comments box below. Thank you very much.