Browse results

Editors IAWA List of Microscopic Bark Features

Patrik Ahvenainen


Many endangered tropical hardwoods are commonly used in electric guitars. In order to find alternative woods, the current electric guitar woods need to be studied and classified as most research in this field has focused on acoustic instruments. Classification was done based on luthier literature, woods used in commercially available electric guitars, commercially available tonewoods and by interviewing Finnish luthiers. Here, the electric guitar woods are divided into three distinct classes based on how they are used in the guitar: low-density wood used in the body only (alder, poplar, basswood, ash), medium-density wood used in the body and neck (maple and mahogany), and high-density wood used in the fretboard only (rosewood and ebony). Together, these three classes span a wide range of anatomical and mechanical properties, but each class itself is limited to a relatively narrow parameter space. Statistically significant differences between these classes and the average hardwoods exist in the wood anatomy (size and organization of vessels, fibres, rays and axial parenchyma), in the mechanical properties (density, elastic modulus, Janka hardness, etc.) and in the average price per volume. In order to find substitute woods for a certain guitar wood class, density and elastic modulus can already be used to rule out most wood species. Based on principal component analysis of the elastomechanical and anatomical properties of commercially available hardwoods, few species are similar to the low- and high-density class woods. However, for all of the three electric guitar wood classes, non-endangered wood species are already commercially available from tonewood retailers that match the class characteristics presented here.

Stéphanie C. Bodin, Rita Scheel-Ybert, Jacques Beauchêne, Jean-François Molino and Laurent Bremond


Tropical tree floras are highly diverse and many genera and species share similar anatomical patterns, making the identification of tropical wood charcoal very difficult. Appropriate tools to characterize charcoal anatomy are thus needed to facilitate and improve identification in such species-rich areas.

This paper presents the first computer-aided identification key designed for charcoals from French Guiana, based on the wood anatomy of 507 species belonging to 274 genera and 71 families, which covers respectively 28%, 67% and 86% of the tree species, genera and families currently listed in this part of Amazonia. Species of the same genus are recorded together except those described under a synonym genus in Détienne et al. (1982) that were kept separately. As a result, the key contains 289 ‘items’ and mostly aims to identify charcoals at the genus level. It records 26 anatomical features leading to 112 feature states, almost all of which are illustrated by SEM photographs of charcoal. The descriptions were mostly taken from Détienne et al.’s guidebook on tropical woods of French Guiana (1982) and follow the IAWA list of microscopic features for hardwood identification (Wheeler et al. 1989). Some adjustments were made to a few features and those that are unrelated to charcoal identification were excluded. The whole tool, named CharKey, contains the key itself and the associated database including photographs. It can be downloaded on Figshare at (doi: 10.6084/m9.figshare.6396005). CharKey is accessible using the free software Xper2, specifically conceived for taxonomic description and computer aided-identification.

Pieter Baas and Elisabeth Wheeler

Oliver Dünisch


The relationship between the spatial organization of different cell types, of the xylem rays, and of the tree rings and the frequencies in vibrating softwoods and hardwoods was studied under controlled conditions. In total, the frequencies in 1007 standardized vibrating plates from 16 softwoods and 74 hardwoods were analysed using high resolution laser sensors (accuracy ± 0.02 μm, sampling frequency 30 kHz) for vibration measurements. Overlapping frequencies within the frequency spectra were identified by means of Fast Fourier Transformation analysis. With regard to the number of distinct frequencies within the spectra, four different vibration types were identified: type 1–one dominant frequency within the frequency spectra; type 2-two dominant frequencies within the frequency spectra; type 3-three dominant frequencies within the frequency spectra; type 4-no dominant frequencies within the frequency spectra. The presence of distinct frequencies was correlated with a highly organized spatial arrangement of tracheids in softwoods, with a storied arrangement of the xylem rays in hardwoods, and with low variation in tree-ring width in both softwoods and hardwoods. The grid size for repetition in these xylem structures influenced the frequencies of the vibrating wood in absolute numbers. The results indicate that the analysis of the anatomical structure of the wood can contribute to the grading of timber for its vibration characteristics, which is of special interest for the selection of resonance wood for musical instruments.

Anna L. Jacobsen, R. Brandon Pratt, Martin D. Venturas and Uwe G. Hacke

Associate-editor Frederic Lens


Xylem vessels interconnect to form the vessel network that is responsible for long-distance water transport through the plant. As plants dehydrate, the water column within vessels cavitates and gas emboli form, which block transport through embolized vessels. The impact of vessel blockages on transport through the xylem tissue depends upon vessel size and the arrangement and connections between vessels in the network. We examined if there was a correlation between vessel length and diameter within poplar stem xylem tissue using both silicone-injection and analysis of tissue volumes scanned using high-resolution computed tomography (microCT). We then used microCT to scan intact stems sampled over varying water potentials to examine if larger vessels, which would have the greatest impact on hydraulic transport, were more vulnerable to cavitation and embolism than smaller vessels. Within the xylem tissue, larger diameter vessels tended to be longer than narrow diameter vessels. Vessel size distributions indicated that most vessels were narrow and short, with fewer large vessels. Larger volume vessels tended to embolize at higher water potentials and the mean vessel volume of embolized vessels declined as water potentials declined. Hydraulic transport through the xylem tissue was near zero when about 40% of the vessels within the xylem tissue volume were embolized, suggesting important vessel network effects occur as water moves through a three-dimensional (3D) tissue. The structure of the vessel network is important in understanding the impact of emboli within vessels on the overall hydraulic function of xylem tissue.

Bei Luo, Tomoya Imai, Junji Sugiyama and Jian Qiu


Agarwoods such as Aquilaria spp. and Gyrinops spp. (Thymelaeaceae) produce interxylary phloem in their secondary xylem and intraxylary phloem at the periphery of the pith, facing the primary xylem. We studied young shoots of Aquilaria sinensis and characterized the development of its intraxylary phloem. It was initiated by the division of parenchyma cells localized in the outer parts of the ground meristem immediately following the maturation of first-formed primary xylem. Its nascent sieve plates bore donut-like structures, the individual pores of which were so small (less than 0.1 μm) that they were hardly visible under FE-SEM. Intraxylary phloem developed into mature tissue by means of the division and proliferation of parenchyma cells. During the shoots’ active growth period, the sieve pore sizes were 0.1–0.5 μm, with tubular elements passing through them. In the maturation stage, large clusters of sieve tubes continued to be differentiated in the intraxylary phloem. In the partial senescence stage observed in a three-centimeter-diameter branch, intraxylary phloem cells in the adaxial part became crushed, and sieve plates had pores over 1–2 μm in diameter without any callose deposition. Before and after the differentiation of interxylary phloem in the first and second internodes, callose staining detected more than twice as many sieve tubes in intraxylary phloem than in external phloem. However, after differentiation of interxylary phloem in the eleventh internode, more sieve tubes were found in interxylary phloem than in intraxylary and external phloem. This suggests that prior to the initiation of interxylary phloem intraxylary phloem acts as the principal phloem. After its differentiation, however, interxylary phloem takes over the role of principal phloem. Interxylary phloem thus acts as the predominant phloem in the translocation of photosynthates in Aquilaria sinensis.