Species identification of logs, planks, and veneers is difficult because they lack the traditional descriptors such as leaves and flowers. An additional challenge is that many transnational shipments have unreliable geographic provenance. Therefore, frequently the lowest taxonomic determination is genus, which allows unscrupulous importers to evade the endangered species laws. In this study we explore whether analysis of wood using a Direct Analysis in Real Time (DART) Time-Of-Flight Mass Spectrometer (TOFMS) can assist in making unequivocal species determinations of Dalbergia. DART TOFMS spectra were collected from the heartwood of eight species of Dalbergia and six other look-alike species. In all, fourteen species comprising of 318 specimens were analyzed and the species chemical profiles were examined by statistical analysis. Dalbergia nigra (CITES Appendix I) was differentiated from D. spruceana; D. stevensonii (Appendix II) was distinguished from D. tucurensis (Appendix III), and all the look-alike timbers could be readily distinguished. Surprisingly, D. retusa (Appendix III) could not be differentiated from D. granadillo, and we postulate that they are synonymous. We conclude that DART TOFMS spectra are useful in making species identifications of American Dalbergia species, and could be a valuable tool for the traditional wood anatomist.
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