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wood identification study guide for forest technology students
Wood Identification Study Guide for Forest Technology Students

The following wood identification study guide was initially designed to assist forest technology students in identifying the wood of different tree species that are covered at the University of Maine at Fort Kent. Cross-sectional images are included for 30 species. Important macro-features useful for identification purposes are indicated and described in each image. In some instances, an image of the tangential face is also included where it may be useful for identification.

I wish to make this resource available to all forest technology instructors and their students. Please feel free to use this guide as you wish in your classes. My only stipulation is that I receive credit for all images that appear in this guide. It is my intent in the future to add additional species. If you would like to add a species that you cover in class, please send me a small sample with a brief description of the species and I will add it to the guide. Any feedback in regard to this guide is appreciated.

Jeff Dubis

Assistant Professor of Forestry

University of Maine at Fort Kent

jdubis@maine.edu

while viewing as a slideshow you may go directly to any species by clicking on the name below
HARDWOODS

Red Oak

White Oak

White Ash

Black Ash

Hickory

American Elm

Black Walnut

Butternut

American Beech

Sycamore

Sugar Maple

Red Maple

Yellow/White birch

Black Cherry

Basswood

Yellow Poplar

Quaking Aspen

SOFTWOODS

White Pine

Red Pine

Southern Yellow Pine

White Spruce

Douglas-Fir

Tamarack

Balsam Fir

Eastern Hemlock

Northern White Cedar

Incense Cedar

Western Red Cedar

Eastern Red Juniper

Redwood

While viewing as a slideshow, you may go directly to any species by clicking on the name below
slide3

Red Oak

Very dense wood

Reddish-brown heartwood

Ring porous

Pores very large in earlywood

Rays two widths. Largest clearly visible

Obvious bands of parenchyma between latewood pores

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Dubis 2001

slide4

White Oak

Very dense wood

Light to dark brown heartwood

Ring porous. Pores very large in earlywood

Abundant tyloses

Obvious bands of parenchyma between earlywood pores and in flame-tracts

Rays two widths. Largest clearly visible

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Dubis 2001

slide5

White Ash

Very dense wood

Pale yellow to light brown heartwood with a golden tinge

Ring porous. Lesser number of latewood pores

Parenchyma arrangement Aliform Vasicentric Confluent

Rays very indistinct. Visible with hand lens

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Dubis 2001

slide6

Black Ash

Very dense wood

Reddish- brown heartwood

Ring porous. Earlywood pores larger than white ash

Vasicentric parenchyma. No bands of parenchyma.

Rays very indistinct. Visible with hand lens

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Dubis 2001

slide7

Hickory

Very dense wood

Pale brown to brown heartwood

Ring porous. Generally a single row of large earlywood pores. Latewood pores very indistinct but visible with hand lens

Tyloses

Banded parenchyma.

Rays very indistinct. Visible with hand lens

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Dubis 2001

slide8

American Elm

Moderately dense wood

Pale brown to brown heartwood

Ring porous. Single row of pores in early- wood. Latewood pores in ulmiform arrangement.

Parenchyma not visible.

Rays very indistinct. Visible with hand lens

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Dubis 2001

slide9

Black Walnut

Very dense wood

Very distinct odor when freshly cut

Light –brown to chocolate-brown heartwood

Semi-ring porous. Gradual transition between latewood and earlywood pores

Diffuse-aggregate parenchyma. Barely visible with hand lens.

Rays very indistinct.

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Dubis 2001

slide10

Red Oak

Butternut

Moderately light wood. Easily scratched with fingernail

Nutty taste and odor

Light to medium brown heartwood

Semi-ring porous.

Tyloses

Diffuse aggregateparenchyma.

Rays very indistinct. Visible with hand lens

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Dubis 2001

slide11

American Beech

Ray flecks on

Tangential face

Dense wood

Heartwood white with reddish-brown tinge

Diffuse-porous. Pores visible only with hand lens

Parenchyma not visible.

Rays both bi-serrate and multiserate. Largest very visible

Noded rays

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Dubis 2001

slide12

Sycamore

Moderately dense wood

Heartwood light to dark brown with reddish tinge

Diffuse-porous. Visible only with hand lens. Solitary or in irregular multiples

Parenchyma not visible.

Rays both Uniserate and multiserate.

Noded rays

Ray flecks on Tangential face

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Dubis 2001

slide13

Sugar maple

Very dense wood

Heartwood light reddish-brown

Diffuse-porous.Solitary pores small but distinct without a hand lens

Parenchyma not visible.

Rays fairly obvious without a hand lens.

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Dubis 2001

slide14

Red Maple

Moderately dense wood

Heartwood light to medium brown

Diffuse-porous.Solitary pores small but distinct without a hand lens

Parenchyma not visible.

Rays fairly obvious without a hand lens.

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Dubis 2001

slide15

Yellow/White Birch

Moderately dense to very dense wood

Heartwood light to dark-brown or reddish brown

Diffuse-porous. Pores solitary or in radial multiples. Largest pores wider than largest rays.

Parenchyma not visible.

Rays visible with hand

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Dubis 2001

slide16

Black Cherry

Moderately dense wood

Heartwood reddish-brown

Diffuse-porous. Pores solitary or in radial multiples. Row of pores along growth ring. (not obvious in picture)

Parenchyma not visible.

Rays visible with hand

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Dubis 2001

slide17

Basswood

Moderately light wood. Can be scratched with fingernail

Light to pale brown heartwood

Diffuse-porous. Pores solitary or in pore clusters.

Boundary parenchyma arrangement

Rays visible to unaided eye. No ray nodes

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Dubis 2001

slide18

Yellow Poplar

Light wood. Can be scratched with fingernail though less than basswood or aspen

Yellow-green heartwood. Rarely with purple tinge.

Diffuse-porous. Pores solitary or in pore clusters.

Boundary parenchyma arrangement

Noded rays visible to unaided eye.

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Dubis 2001

slide19

Quaking Aspen

Very soft wood. Can be scratched with fingernail

Creamy white heartwood.

Diffuse-porous. Pores solitary, or arranged in radial multiples or pore clusters.

Parenchyma not visible

Rays Uniserate. Barely visible with hand lens.

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Dubis 2001

slide20

White Pine

Cream to light brown to reddish-brown heartwood.

Slightly resinous odor

Medium texture

Rays Uniserate. Very fine. Barely visible with hand lens.

Medium-sized resin canals appearing as white flecks

Gradual latewood transition

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Dubis 2001

slide21

Red Pine

Cream to light brown to reddish-brown heartwood.

Very strong resinous odor

Medium texture

Rays Uniserate. Very fine.

Small-medium-sized resin canals barely visible to unaided eye

Fairly abrupt latewood transition

Cream to light brown to reddish-brown heartwood.

Very strong resinous odor

Medium texture

Rays Uniserate. Very fine.

Small-medium-sized resin canals barely visible to unaided eye

Fairly abrupt latewood transition

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Dubis 2001

slide22

Southern Yellow Pine

Variable heartwood color. Ranges from yellow to orange to reddish-brown to light brown

Strong resinous odor

Medium texture

Resin canals very obvious in latewood

Rays Uniserate. Very fine.

Abrupt latewood transition. Latewood very dense and wide

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Dubis 2001

slide23

White Spruce

White to pale yellow-brown. Same as sapwood

No odor

Fine texture

Rays Uniserate. Very fine.

Resin canals appear as small white dots

Semi-abrupt latewood transition.

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Dubis 2001

slide24

Douglas-Fir

Variable heartwood color ranging from yellow to pale reddish-yellow to orange red to deep red.

Characteristic plywood odor

Resin canals small white dots

Fairly coarse texture

Rays Uniserate.

Abrupt latewood transition. Sometimes wavy

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Dubis 2001

slide25

Tamarack

Yellowish to light brown heartwood

No odor

Resin canals small and scattered. Sometimes in multiples

Fine to medium texture

Rays Uniserate.

Lustrous tangential and radial face.

Abrupt latewood transition. Very dense

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Dubis 2001

slide26

Balsam Fir

White to yellowish-white heartwood. Same as sapwood

No odor

No resin canals

Medium texture

Lacking rays tracheids.

Gradual latewood transition.

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Dubis 2001

slide27

Eastern Hemlock

White to yellow-brown. Same as sapwood

No odor

No resin canals

Medium to coarse texture

Rays not visible with hand lens

Abrupt latewood transition. Sometimes wavy

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Dubis 2001

slide28

Northern White Cedar

Light to medium straw brown heartwood

Mild, sweet odor

No resin canals

Fine to medium texture

Rays very fine. Visible with hand lens

Gradual transition but latewood is obvious.

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Dubis 2001

slide29

Incense Cedar

Reddish-brown to dull brown heartwood

Strong distinct odor. Smells like wooden pencils

No resin canals

Medium texture

Rays very fine. Barely visible with hand lens

Gradual latewood transition.

Acrid taste

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Dubis 2001

slide30

Western Red Cedar

Reddish to dull brown heartwood

Sweet fragrant cedar smell

No resin canals

Medium to course texture

Rays very fine. Barely visible with hand lens

Abrupt latewood transition.

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Dubis 2001

slide31

Eastern Red Juniper

White to yellowish-white sapwood.Distinct reddish-brown or purplish-brown heartwood

Dark red parenchyma

Very strong and fragrant smell

No resin canals

Very fine texture

Rays very fine.

Gradual latewood transition.

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Dubis 2001

slide32

Redwood

Light red to deep reddish brown

No odor

No resin canals

Very course texture

Rays coarse for a conifer species

Abrupt latewood transition.

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Dubis 2001