Rosewood and palisander (Dalbergia L.f., Fabaceae) are sources of highly valuable tropical timber and include species threatened by habitat degradation and selective logging for national and international trade. Law enforcement depends on reliable and cost-effective species-level identification of timber along the supply chain. The potential of wood anatomy to distinguish between species has not yet been systematically investigated for Dalbergia species from Madagascar. We assessed 36 qualitative and eight quantitative wood anatomical features in 16 Malagasy Dalbergia species that form medium-sized to large trees, representing each species by at least five individuals. We integrated and contrasted the newly collected data with existing data from InsideWood and two previous studies. Principal component analysis of 93 individuals and 29 variables resulted in non-overlapping hulls for eight species with respect to the first two dimensions. Four quantitative features (number of ray tiers per millimetre, number of rays per millimetre, vessel density, and vessel element length) and two qualitative features (scanty paratracheal axial parenchyma and irregular to absent storied structure) were found to be potentially diagnostic to distinguish three single species and three pairs of closely related species. Following our analyses, we provide a provisional microscopic wood anatomical identification key for the 16 Dalbergia species, which can be applied to both logs and sawn wood.
Diospyros L. (Ebenaceae) is an important source of ebony, a precious wood used for several economically important timber products. Species are overexploited in many regions, including Madagascar, for both the national and international trade, but little is known about their wood anatomy, despite its importance for forensic identification. Wood anatomy has a major role to play in ensuring the sustainable and equitable utilization of Diospyros species that are not threatened by extinction, and in law enforcement to protect threatened species from illegal logging. This study aims to identify, describe, and test the usefulness of anatomical features to support a taxonomic revision of the genus in Madagascar and to enrich databases for wood identification. Ninety-nine wood specimens were collected from the various bio-geographical regions of Madagascar, representing 15 endemic species (twelve previously described and three new) of large trees (reaching DBH ⩾ 20 cm and/or height ⩾ 20 m) were investigated. Standard methods for wood anatomical studies were used. Statistical analysis of the data using Factorial Analysis on Mixed Data was performed for 14 wood anatomical characters. Detailed descriptions and comparisons of the wood anatomy of the 15 species are provided, along with a wood identification key. Analyses showed that all the characters are highly significant (