Choosing the type of wood you want to cook with can be a puzzle if you do not know what wood is available, and how each type of wood will effect the meat you are cooking in terms of flavor. My favorite type of wood to use is mesquite, and basically I use it for everything I smoke. Sometimes I add other woods such as apple, cherry, or pecan to give different tastes to the meat, but most of the time I use aged mesquite or hickory.
Alder- This type of wood is found mostly in northern states. It is a very delicate wood that gives a hint of sweetness to the meat. Alder is commonly used to smoke fish, pork, poultry, and game birds.
Apple- The bark on a piece of apple wood is very thin so it gives off less smoke that other types of wood. The smoke is fruity in flavor, and can be a great wood to use for smoking poultry and pork. I use apple in addition to mesquite when I smoke ribs.
Cherry- Cherry is a great wood for adding in to just about any firebox. It will give a sweet but not overpowering taste to any type of meat.
Hickory- Hickory is good for smoking pork, ham, and beef. It is probably the most commonly used wood for smoking.
Mesquite- Mesquite is my favorite type of wood because it gives meat a good smoke flavor, and a person can find it just about anywhere in Texas. It is important to use only dried mesquite wood, because if the wood is too green, it can make the meat taste bitter.
Oak- This type of wood can be used on just about anything if a heavy smoke flavor is desired. Two types of oak are commonly used: red oak, and white oak. White oak burns longer, and red oak is sweeter.
Pecan- Pecan is good to use in addition to mesquite when smoking ribs. I smoked a brisket using pecan only, and the end result was a 10 pound chunk of meat that was too sweet to eat. I recommend using pecan moderately, mixed with another wood such as mesquite or hickory.