- My experience after studying wood identification
for several hundred hours over
the past few years is that only 6 different Families of trees
distinguished . This number greatly increases under 100x but
at 10x only 6.
I will use common names so you don't have to look them up, but
common names we will lose a little something in the translation.
- Oak is a genus in the Beech Family it
has two groups of species that can be
identified, the first group is oak which contains all species
of red and
white oak. Rock hounds from Eastern Washington claim to have
about 17 different species of oak. That is way silly as scientists
even do that with microscopes. The other group of oak species
that can be
identified under low magnification is the live oak group. Sycamore
another family that can be identified and it only has one genus
Wood from the Beech genus resembles sycamore quit a bit but a
keen eye can
usually differentiate. Trchodenderon is a unique Family that
has 2 genera
which can be differentiated tetracentron and trochodendron. Under
magnification they are too similar to separate one from the other
are so rare that if you ever get one or the other you won't care
is. Sorry, I am not aware of a common name for them.
- Alder is a genus in the Birch Family.
Birch cannot be separated from maple or cherry or one hundred
other woods under low magnification but Alder can. Again it takes
a trained eye. Elm is in the Elm Family, so is hackberry which
it closely resembles. It also resembles two or more genera of
the Mulberry Family, Mulberry and Osage orange. Because the Mulberry
family is scarce in the fossil record Elm is usually accepted
without much question. Also because hackberry and elm are from
the same family lumping them together is more acceptable. The
Walnut Family contains several genera that all resemble each
unless the specimen has outstanding cell structure preservation
walnut, hickory and wingnut cannot be separated under 10x magnification.
- Regarding the conifers I am afraid the
only differentiation that can be made
without a microscope are several genera of the Pine family. Even
most conifers can not be differentiated, only with the use of
at 400x to 800x can these be identified. Because of all of the
it is more accurate to use terms like "elm", walnut-like,
or from the
Walnut Family when using only a hand lens to identify. Questions?
Thanks again for your interest. Ed Strauss
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