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Wood Anatomy & Identification

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Macroscopic Structure of Wood


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Growth Increments
A tree stem consists of three areas; pith, xylem and bark. The central pith (F) is usually barely visible and does not increase in size through the life of the tree. A cylinder of wood, known scientifically as xylem (D "sapwood" plus E "heartwood"), varies in diameter with age and rate of growth. And finally, the bark sheath can be subdivided into inner bark (B which conducts sugars) and outer bark (C that serves as a protective layer).
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New wood and inner bark are added each year by the activity of a layer of dividing cells (A cambium) sandwiched between the inner bark and sapwood. New bark production is relatively small compared with new wood production, and bark is continually being shed to the outside of the stem, thus in older trees the greatest volume of the stem is wood. Since new wood is added to the outside of existing wood the oldest wood is close to the pith, and the most recent is close to the bark. [Note: G, the fine radiating "spokes", are the wood rays].
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Growth rings - In the north temperate zones, cutting any stem surface will show the wood to be composed of a series of concentric bands. These bands are referred to as growth rings, and in temperate trees commonly one ring is formed each year. Growth rings actually extend vertically along the stem as a series of concentric cylinders. If the numbers of growth rings on the two ends of a log are counted, more rings will be found on the lower end of the log than on the upper.

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Each year a tree grows in height from its tip, although new wood is added along the length of the stem, no previous growth rings are present at the top of the stem. The number of growth rings increases down the stem according to the number of annual height increments.

The appearance of growth rings is due to changes in the structure of wood produced through the growing season. Cells produced at the beginning of the season are commonly larger, and so this early wood appears less dense than the latewood produced towards the end of the season.
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The earlywood cells have a large cross-sectional area, thin cell wall and a large, open center called the lumen. The large lumen provides an efficient pathway for water conduction. The latewood cells have a smaller cross-sectional diameter, thicker cell wall and a narrower lumen than earlywood cells. The thick cell walls provide substantial support for the tree, but the small lumen indicates less efficient conduction than provided by earlywood cells.
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Vessels, or pores that are characteristic of hardwoods, are composed of individual vessel segments or cells that possess a large diameter and thin cell walls. Because of their large diameter, vessels in many hardwoods can be easily seen by the unaided eye. Hardwoods are classified as ring-porous or diffuse-porous woods, depending on the vessel or pore arrangement within a growth ring. In a ring-porous wood the pores formed in the earlywood zone have a diameter considerably larger than the latewood pores.

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SWST Teaching Unit 1 Slide Set 2

Diffuse porous woods reveal uniform pore diameters across the entire growth ring. As a result of this more uniform structure, it is often difficult to detect growth rings in diffuse porous woods. Some hardwoods show a gradual decrease in pore diameter across the growth ring and are termed either semi-ring or semi-diffuse porous woods.

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Although all trees produce concentric layers of wood, not all trees produce visible growth rings, neither are all growth rings necessarily annual. In some trees seasonal changes in wood structure may be so slight that growth rings are not evident. Under conditions of severe drought an annual growth ring may not be produced. On the other hand under continuously favorable conditions, such as the tropics, several growth rings may be produced in a year.

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Heartwood and Sapwood


Wood that is functional in water transport is referred to as sapwood, and occupies the outer, or more recently formed wood. Wood that is no longer functional in conducting water is referred to as heartwood and occupies the central stem core. Each year new wood is formed, some inner-most sapwood becomes nonfunctional in water transport so that the outer boundary of the heartwood core is continually moving outwards. In general an approximate balance is maintained between new wood formation and conversion of sapwood to heartwood so that there is always adequate conducting tissue
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The conversion of sapwood to heartwood is commonly associated with a color change that is due to the deposition of chemical compounds known as extractives. The color change varies among species according to the composition of the wood. Some have a rich and beautiful appearance, in other species the color change may be only very slight, and in yet other species there may be no evidence of color change. The extractives also impart a durability to the wood against fungal decay and insect attack. The degree of durability varies widely among different species.

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Direction in Wood
Three orthogonal planes (i.e., mutually perpendicular) are recognized, although the stem can of course be cut in any number of intermediate planes. (1)Cross sectional plane Cross-sectional or transverse views are exposed by cuts made at right angles to the long axis of the tree stem. A horizontal, or transverse cut through the stem will reveal the growth rings as concentric circles.
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(2)Radial Plane - The radial surface is exposed when the cut follows a radius of a cross section of the log, along the axis of the log, i.e., when it is made across the growth rings; if truly accurate to the direction, it would pass in a cross- section of log from the bark to the pith of the trunk. Lumber cut so that the wide face of the board is principally radial is called quarter-sawn or edge-grained

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3)Tangential plane - The longitudinal tangential plane is revealed by a plane of cut parallel to growth rings and perpendicular to rays . Growth rings here will appear as a series of wavy lines or cones stacked one above another. A board cut to expose a tangential longitudinal surface is known as a plain (or flat) sawn board.

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It should be realized that only peeling, as in veneer production, can produce a truly tangential surface, and only the one cut that is in a plane through the pith can produce a truly radial surface. Intermediate planes of cut are commonly referred to as radial or tangential according to which they more closely approximate.

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Wood Rays and Resin Ducts

Two other features appear in the magnified cross-section. The first are long, radial lines running between the rows of longitudinal cells. These rays are composed of horizontal cells usually in groups. Rays provide an avenue by which sap can travel horizontally either to or from phloem layer. Virtually all woods contain rays. In some hardwoods species rays are quite large and readily visible in crosssection. In softwoods and a number of hardwoods, rays are very narrow and in some cases difficult to see even with magnifying glass.
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Second are resin canals or resin ducts, which appear on the crosssection, interspersed among the normal longitudinal cells. They are absent in some species, very noticeable in others - particularly pines, and are useful in identifying these woods. Resin canals appear to the naked eyes or under a hand lens as small, dark or whitish dots. Hardwoods do not contain resin ducts but they do have rays. In hardwoods the rays vary greatly in character between species. Rays also have an effect on wood properties. For example, rays restrain dimensional change in the radial direction, and their presence is partially responsible for the fact that upon drying, wood shrinks less radially than it does tangentially. Its also influence strength properties because they constitute radially oriented planes of weakness. Because of this effect upon strength, splitting may occur along rays in veneer- slicing operations if the veneer knife is improperly oriented. Splitting can also develop along rays when wood is dried.

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Differences Between Softwoods and Hardwoods


Trees for timber production are classified as softwoods or hardwoods. Hardwoods are the most diverse group, they contain both the heaviest and lightest timber examples found in nature. Botanically, softwoods include the conifers that belong to the more primitive group of plants called the Gymnosperms. Interestingly this group of plants is almost wholly composed of trees. Hardwoods belong to the botanical group called the Dicotyledenous Angiosperms, this is a very large group of plants including vegetable and fruit plants, herbaceous flowering plants and weeds as well as trees.
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One of the major botanical distinctions between softwoods and hardwoods lies in the structure of their wood. In softwoods, the cells that serve to transport water also provide the mechanical support for the stem. In hardwoods, some division of labor has evolved, with some cells specializing in water transport, and others in providing mechanical support. In hardwoods the water conducting cells, known as pores or vessels, are commonly very much larger in diameter than the cells, known as tracheids, in softwoods. The pores can frequently be seen with the naked eye as a number of pinholes in the transverse surface of the wood. As a result hardwoods are commonly referred to as porous woods, and softwoods as nonporous woods. The differences in the anatomical structure of these two groups can be seen in the following pictures (20 X).

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Softwood (20X)
cross section

Hardwood (20X)
cross section

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Appearance of timber in of many timbers is due to relation to its The decorative appearance structure the texture,

the figure, and

the colour of the material


and, in many instances, to combinations of these.

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The texture of timber depends on the size of the cells and on their arrangement. Boxwood - cells have a very small diameter- fine-textured, Keruing, has large-diameter cells- coarse-textured

Where the distribution of the cell-types or sizes across the growth ring is uniform-even-textured.
Conversely, where variation occurs across the growth ring, either in distribution of cells (as in teak) or in thickness of the cell walls (as in larch or Douglas fir), the timber is said to have an uneven texture.

2. Figure

Figure is defined as the ornamental markings seen on the cut surface of timber, formed by the structural features of the wood but the term is also frequently applied to the effect of marked variations in colour. The four most important structural features inducing figure are

grain, growth rings, rays and knots.

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2.1Grain
The word grain refers to the orientation of wood-cell fibers. Grain can be used to describe the direction of the cells, the surface appearance of the wood, and the strength of the wood. Grain can be determined by the type of cleavage produced when wood is split. If the plane of cleavage is flat, the grain is straight. If the face of the cleavage is wavy, the wood is curly or wavy-grained.

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Spiral grain Trees in which fibers are Parallel grain arrangementspirally arranged grain orientation Spiral about the stem axis are said to have spiral grain.
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Interlocked grain

In some trees, grain may spiral in one direction for several years and then reverse direction to spiral oppositely. Wood produced in this way is said to have interlocked grain. Woods with interlocked grain are difficult to split. Wood with this characteristic may also shrink longitudinally upon drying, warp unpredictable, or both.

interlocked grain orientation


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Growth rings
variability occurs across the growth ring, either in the distribution of the various cell types or in the thickness of the cell walls, distinct patterns will appear on the machined faces of the timber. On the radial face the growth rings will be vertical and parallel to one another, but on the tangential face a most pleasing series of concentric arcs is produced as successive growth layers are intersected. In the centre part of the plank of timber, the growth rings are cut tangentially forming these attractive arcs.
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In the case of elm it is the presence of the large early wood vessels that makes the growth ring so conspicuous, whereas in timbers such as Douglas fir or pitch pine, the striking effect of the growth ring can be ascribed to the very thick walls of the latewood cells.
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Rays

Another structural feature that may add to the attractive appearance of timber is the ray. In the case of oak, the rays are both deep and wide. When the surface of the plank coincides with the longitudinal radial plane, these rays can be seen as sinuous light-coloured ribbons running across the grain.

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Wood-knots

Knots are portions of branches included in the wood of the stem or larger branch. Branches generally originate at or near the pith (central axis) of a stem, and the living portion will increase in size through the addition of annual woody layers which are a continuation of those of the stem. The included portion is irregularly conical in shape with the tip at the pith. The fibre direction is at right angles or oblique to the grain of the stem, thus producing local cross grain. Note that a small knot may also be the result of a dormant bud.
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During the development of a tree the lower limbs die, but may persist for a time--often for years. Subsequent layers of growth of the stem are no longer intimately joined with the dead limb, but are laid around it. Hence dead branches produce knots which are nothing more than pegs in a hole, and likely to drop out after the tree has been sawn. In grading lumber and structural timber, knots are classified according to their form, size, soundness, and the firmness with which they are held in place.

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Knots, though troublesome from the mechanical aspects of timber utilization, can be regarded as a decorative feature; the fashion of knotty-pine furniture and wall paneling in the early 1970s is a very good example of how knots can be a decorative feature. Exceptionally, trees produce a cluster of small shoots at some point on the trunk and the timber subsequently formed in this region contains a multitude of small knots. Timber from these burrs is highly prized for decorative work, especially if walnut or yew.

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Color

In the absence of extractives, timber tends to be a rather pale straw color which is characteristic of the sapwood of almost all timbers. The onset of heartwood formation in many timbers is associated with the deposition of extractives, most of which are colored, thereby imparting coloration to the heartwood zone. In passing, it should be recalled that although physiological heartwood is always formed in older trees, extractives are not always produced;
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The heartwood of timbers such as ash and spruce is colourless. Where colouration of the heartwood occurs, a whole spectrum of colour exists among the different species. The heartwood may be yellow (e.g. boxwood), orange (e.g. opepe), red (e.g. mahogany), purple (e.g. purpleheart), brown (e.g. African walnut), green (e.g. greenheart) or black (e.g. ebony). In some timbers the colour is fairly evenly distributed throughout the heartwood, whereas in other species considerable variation in the intensity of the colour occurs.
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Chapter- 4

Microscopic Structure of Wood


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The structure of softwoods is relatively simple compared with that of hardwoods. Most of the cells found in coniferous wood are tracheids, which comprise 90% to 95% of the volume of the wood.

Simplicity of softwood structure means softwoods tend to be similar in appearance and there are few differences to distinguish one softwood from another one, on the basis of macroscopic characteristics. Thus, study of microscopic structure of softwoods is more important for wood identification

softwood

A- Earlywood trachieds are of thinner cell wall and larger cell lumen. B- Latewood trachieds are of small diameter, flatten shaped and of slightly thicker cell wall. Ray appears as narrow lines extending across the growth rings at right angle. C- The larger, rounded openings are resin canals, which are surrounded by thin wall epithelial cells. D-Resin canals are surrounded by thin-walled epithelial cell.

4.2.2. Tangential section view

The elongated form of trachieds is evident in tangential section .Average Length of trachieds (34mm) is 75-100 times than their diameter (25-45m). Rays are scattered and appears as vertical tiers of small rounded cells. We are actually looking into cut ends of rays. Occasionally, horizontal resin canal surrounded by ray cells may appear which is known as fusiform ray. Horizontal resin canal

We can see several rows of ray cells (both of ray trachieds and ray arenchyma). The upper and lower rows of ray cells are ray trachieds. At the junction of longitudinal trachieds and ray parenchyma cells, rounded pitting occurs which is of diagnostic value.

Softwood Cell Types Longitudinal Support, conduction, or both 1. longitudinal tracheid 2. strand tracheid B. Storage or secretion 1. longitudinal parenchyma 2. epithelial

Softwood Cell Types Transverse A. Support, conduction, or both 1. ray tracheids


B. Storage or secretion 1. ray parenchyma 2. epithelial

Spiral thickenings in Douglas fir(left) and yew(right)

Trachieds are conductive cells; they are devoid of contents and usually have relatively smooth inner walls. However, trachieds walls have spiral thickenings, in very few species. In radial or tangential section, these thickenings appear as fine-lined, helically arranged ridges. This feature is found only in two conifers, so its presence plays an important role in identifying them. Spiral thickening in conjunction with resin canal indicate Douglas fir. Spiral thickening without resin canals indicate yew.

Void in the secondary walls of wood cells are called pits. A pit in one cell occurs opposite a pit in adjacent cell, forming a pit pair. The pits of a pair is separated by a sieve like pit membrane.

Pit pairs are the principal avenues through which fluids pass from cell to cell. If the pits looks like a plug removed from the cell wall, it is called simple pit

Simple pit and pit pair

Pits in trachieds have more elaborate, domelike shapes and are called bordered pits. Bordered pits are abundant along the radial walls of trachieds and look like circular targets or doughnuts when viewed radially. Number of bordered pits across a radial wall of earlywood is useful diagnostic feature. For example, In Spruce: usually single pits; In Larch: pits are commonly paired; In Redwood: there may be up to four pits

Bordered pit and pit pair

Types of pitting in Earlywood trachieds

Resin canals are tubular passage in wood that are actually intercellular spaces surrounded by special parenchyma cells called epithelial cells. The epithelial cells exude pitch or resin in to the canals to seal-off the wounds in wood caused by mechanical damage or boring insects.

Resin canal in pines

Resin canals occur in pines, spruces, larches and Douglas fir and provide an initial basis to separate them from the remaining of softwoods. In pines, resin canals are relatively large and numerous.They are usually present in all growth rings are evenly distributed throughout the rings. They occur singly and have thin-walled epithelial cells. These thin walled epithelial cells sometimes bulge out and seem to block or fill the resin canal. Such protrusions are called tylosoids.

Resin canals in spruces, larches and Douglas fir are relatively small and fewer and less uniformly distributed. They may appear to absent from some growth rings. They commonly occur in group of two to several, arranged tangentially to one another. The epithelial cells are thick walled and usually distinct.

Resin canal in spruces, larch and Douglas fir

Finally, it should be noted that resin canals occasionally form as a response to environmental stress or injury in species that normally do not have them. These are called traumatic resin canals. They appear in transverse view as a single continuous line extending for a considerable distance along a growth ring, and are usually absent elsewhere. They are very small, barely larger than the tracheids diameter, therefore easily recognized and so different from normal resin canals.

4.3.4. Longitudinal parenchyma


Although almost all longitudinal cells in conifers are trachieds, a few cells in certain species are longitudinal parenchyma. They have same cross-section dimensions as trachieds and are not individually distinct to naked eyes. In longitudinal microscopic sections, parenchyma cells are relatively short and occur in vertical series or strands- hence known as strand parenchyma. They can distinguish easily in longitudinal section from trachieds because of their cross-walls and dark contents.

In few species (redwood) the darkened longitudinal parenchyma appears as fine, broken lines on longitudinal surfaces. Absence or presence of longitudinal parenchyma cells are of diagnostic value. They are always absent in genera Picea (Spruce) and Pinus (Pines), but they are always abundant in Sequoia (redwood) and Taxodium (bald cypress).

4.3.5. Rays

Rays are important identification features in conifers when viewed microscopically, since magnification produces valuable information on how many cells high or wide a ray is, what type or types of cells compose the ray and what type of pitting is evident on the cell wall.

Seriation refers to the width of ray as measured in cells on viewing in tangential surface Uniseriate rays (U): consist of a single vertical tier of cells. Biseriate rays(B): rays that are two cells wide, atleast in some points in a vertical tier of cells. (eg: redwood). Triseriate ray (T): rays that are three cells wide, atleast in some points in a vertical tier of cells

Species that have normal longitudinal resin canals also have horizontal resin canals. These small horizontal resin canals occur in the middle of specialized rays called fusiform rays. It is an important microscopic identification feature of family Pinaceae. As in vertical resin canals the epithelial cells surrounding horizontal resin canals are either thin walled (pines) or thick walled (spruces, larches and Douglas fir).

Most rays contains two types of cells: ray trachieds and ray parenchyma. Generally, ray parenchyma is in central portion and ray trachieds are along the upper and lower margins. Homogenous/homocellular rays: A ray composed of either ray trachieds (Alaska yellow cedar) or ray parenchyma (true firs and cedar). Heterogeneous/heterocellular rays: A ray composed of both ray trachieds and ray parenchyma cells. Ray trachieds can be distinguied by their bordered pits while ray parenchyma cells have simple pits.

Cell arrangements in heterogeneous ray

Ray tracheids are distinguished by their bordered pits. In radial view, where rays cross longitudinal trachieds, small, rounded bordered pits can be seen. In most species ray trachieds are smooth walled. In hard pines, ray trachieds have irregular walls and looks like tooth like projection in radial view and called dentate ray trachieds(

The Common wall joining a ray parenchyma cell and an earlywood longitudinal tracheids, as seen in radial view, is called a cross field or ray crossing. As viewed radially at higher magnifications, the common wall between these cells is delineated above and below by the horizontal walls of ray parenchyma cells, and along the sides by the lateral walls of the longitudinal tracheids .

Latewood tracheids are narrow in radial diameter thus form narrow cross fields, thus not used for the identification purpose. Type of pitting that occur in the cross field is an important identification feature in softwoods. These pittings are of following five types . Fenestriform or window like pitting 2. Pinoid pitting 3. Piceoid or piciform pitting: 4. Cupressoid pitting: 5. Taxodioid pitting:

Fenestriform or window like pitting: soft pines (red pine and Scots pine)

than red pine and Scots pine such as yellow pine)

Piceoid or piciform pitting: spruces, larch and Douglas-fir

Cupressoid pitting: hemlock and cedars (except Thuja)

Taxodioid pitting: redwood, firs, Thuja and cypress

Piceoid, Cupressoid and Taxodioid types of pitting are small and more difficult to see and they intergarde with one another. Thus, we should consider them in conjunction with other features. For example: (1) Piceoid pitting is associated with spruces, larch and Douglas-fir that also have resin canals. (2) Cupressoid and Taxodioid pitting is associated with those species that usually have abundant longitudinal parenchyma.

Dhanyawad

This is a scanning electron micrograph of an eastern spruce wood block, a softwood. Most cells run longitudinally, but some cells, run horizontally. The big hole is called a resin canal (rc). The majority of the cells shown here are called "longitudinal tracheids". On different surfaces, the wood structure appears differently. This is called anisotropic or orthotropic structure. This unique structure differs from other raw materials, e.g., metal, plastic, concrete and rocks.
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In contrast to softwood, the structure of hardwood is more complicated, due to more cell types existing in hardwoods. This is a 3-D picture of a birch wood block. The large holes represent the vessel elements. The small ones are the fibers. The lines between the vessel elements on the top of the block are bundles of ray cells called multiseriate rays.

ray fibers

vessels

SWST Teaching Unit 1 Slide Set 2

This picture shows a cross section of redwood. It is enlarged 100 times through a light microscope. As you know, a tree produces a ring annually. This ring is composed of two zones, i.e., earlywood (light colored area, larger diameter cells) and the latewood (dark colored area, smaller diameter cells). The earlywood is produced at the beginning of a growing season with a relatively thin cell wall and a large diameter. The latewood is formed late in the growing season with a relatively thick cell wall and small cavity. This picture also shows that the zones from the earlywood to latewood changes distinctively. This is called an abrupt transition. Some species possess this distinct feature, some are gradual.

earlywood latewood

SWST Teaching Unit 1 Slide Set 2

Here is another scanning electron micrograph of a wood which shows the abrupt transition zone from earlywood to latewood. This is Douglas-fir.

Red pine is another species that illustrates the abrupt change of the transition zone. The two large holes on the cross section are resin canals.

In contrast, some species, such as eastern spruce, have a gradual change in cell size from the earlywood to the latewood.
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In balsam fir, the transition zone between the earlywood and the latewood displays a gradual change similar to white spruce.
Eastern white pine also shows this gradual transition of cell size from earlywood to latewood.
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HARDWOODS
In hardwoods, wood structure is more complicated than softwoods because there are more cell types. This micrograph shows a cross sectional view of red oak (20X). The largest diameter holes in the earlywood zone are cross sectional views of vessel elements. In latewood, these vessel elements are small and sometimes grouped together. Because of this distinctive size and arrangement of the vessel elements, the growth ring is very clear and distinctive. This type of hardwood is called a ring-porous wood.

latewood vessels
earlywood vessel elements
SWST Teaching Unit 1 Slide Set 2

This is Osage-orange. The materials inside the vessel elements are called tyloses. Tyloses are ingrowths of adjoining parenchyma (food storage) cells into the vessel elements. Tyloses block the flow of water through the vessels.

White oak is another good example of a ring-porous wood. Large vessel elements are located in the earlywood zone, small vessel elements are in the latewood. Tyloses are visible in the large earlywood vessels.
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However, in some hardwoods size of vessel elements does not change very much throughout a growing season. A good example of this arrangement is sugar maple. The large circles are the vessel elements. Wood possessing this type of even sized vessel element is called diffuse porous wood.

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American basswood is another good example of diffuse porous wood.

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Another diffuse porous wood is sweet birch. The vessel elements in this micrograph are solitary (individual vessels) or grouped in "multiples" of two.

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In other hardwoods, the size of the vessel elements change gradually from the early growing season to the late growing season. This type of wood is called semiring-porous wood. A good example of this type of wood is walnut. Large vessel earlywood is at the bottom of the picture and smaller vessel latewood is at the top (20X).
latewood earlywood

SWST Teaching Unit 1 Slide Set 2

This diagram shows some of the cell types in softwoods and hardwoods. The long cell (a) is called a longitudinal tracheid and accounts for over 90% of the wood volume of softwood. The tracheids are approximately 3 - 5 mm in length and 30 - 50 micrometers in diameter. These long cells, often referred to in the trade as "fibers" are the main cell type which make up writing paper and brown paper bags. In hardwoods, more cell types are found, vessel element (b) is earlywood and (d) is latewood. (c) Represents a hardwood fiber, while (e) is a hardwood tracheid. Hardwood fibers are somewhat similar to softwood tracheids, but are much shorter. The fibers are approximately 1 to 2 mm in length and 20 - 30 micrometers in diameter. Kodak color paper is mainly made of maple and beech fibers. Toilet paper, napkins, and Kleenex are made of poplar fibers.
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As you have seen in previous slides, hardwood structure is more complicated than softwood. In softwoods, longitudinal tracheids are the major cell type. Therefore, softwood lumber has a uniform appearance. Different softwoods will appear somewhat similar. In hardwoods, because of a greater variety of cell types, appearances are quite different.

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Different hardwoods may have their own unique and distinctive patterns. The drawing below shows various types of cell arrangements. The large circles represent the vessel elements. The vertical lines represent the ray cells. The little dots are longitudinal parenchyma cells. Parenchyma are food storage cells. Vessels and rays conduct fluids. Look at the variety of arrangements.

Parenchyma Configurations Occurring in Hardwoods as Seen in Transverse View

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The next five pictures are cross sectional views of hardwoods that illustrate some of the structural detail that can be seen with a hand lens (10 - 16X magnifying glass).

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Here is an example of various cell types on the cross-sectional surface of a hardwood. You can see this structure through a regular hand lens (16 X). This is elm which is characterized by distinct wavy lines of smaller vessels in the latewood.

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Oak (below) is a hardwood that has distinctive wide rays amongst narrow rays. In the example below, there are two wide rays. Note also the large diameter earlywood vessels and the small latewood vessels, that are arranged in "flame shaped groups parallel to the rays. (white oak 20X)

In this cross section of ash (above), several rays may be seen, but they are much narrower than those in oak. The latewood vessels are often circled by fine whitish areas which are groups of longitudinal parenchyma cells. 20X
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Yellow-poplar has small, diffuse vessel elements and fine rays. The two growth ring boundaries in this photo are readily distinguished as whitish lines, again due to groups of small diameter longitudinal parenchyma cells. 20X Birch is a diffuse porous hardwood that also has fine rays.20X
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SOFTWOODS
Now you know the structure of wood is quite complicated, especially the structure of hardwoods. The structure of softwoods is much simpler. Here is a close look at pine wood. Most of the cells run vertically and resemble long, straight tubes, these are the tracheids. The circles with a hole at the center (side of specimen) are bordered pit-pairs. These pits are channels through which materials can flow from or into neighboring cells. The block-like holes on top of the specimen are cross sectional views of tracheids. Wood rays are perpendicular to the tracheids.

Resin canal

bordered pit-pairs

tracheids

rays

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In this view southern yellow pine earlywood is light in color, while latewood is darker brown. The large holes are resin canals. Abrupt transition. 20X

Sugar pine has large resin canals. The growth ring in this sample is primarily earlywood, with somewhat narrow bands of latewood. Gradual transition.20X
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Sitka spruce has smaller resin canals than the pines. Note that the canals are located primarily in the latewood (white spots).20X

True fir has no resin canals. Resin canals are found only in pines, spruces, larches, and Douglas-fir.20X
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Incense cedar is a wood with a distinctive color and odor. Incense cedar smells like pencils, since pencils are made from this wood.20X

Portions of this eastern hemlock photo shows earlywood tracheids which are large enough to be seen individually. Look for a very fine "honeycomb structure. Larger diameter tracheids results in a "coarser textured" wood.20X
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Ultrastructure of Wood
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This is a drawing of a single softwood tracheid. Note the pits on the side walls and the "lumen" inside of the hollow cell.

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Here are two bordered pits which were observed with a scanning electron microscope. More detail of the structure can by seen in this picture. The two pits form a "pit pair" which is cut open so that we can see the inside or "pit chamber". Portions of three longitudinal tracheid lumens (dark areas) can be seen here.

Here is another structural view of a softwood bordered pit pair. Two tracheids are connected by the pit pair. The over-arching pit borders are separated by a central "pit membrane" which bisects the pit chamber.
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A "face view" of the pit membrane reveals a flat, circular disk suspended by strands, much like a trampoline. The disk is called the torus, and the strands are known as the margo.

The margo is elastic, and thus the torus can move laterally. Here is a pit pair in which this has happened. This sealed type of pit is called an "aspirated pit". The pathway between the two cells is blocked
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bordered pits Pit structure is but one of the ultrastructural features of the woody cell wall.

The structure of a cell appears even more complicated if you use the high powered magnification of a transmission electron microscope. The micrograph shows a cross sectional view of a pine tracheid. The cell wall of the tracheid can be divided into various layers as indicated on the picture. The S1, S2, and S3 layers make up the secondary wall. The Pr layer is the primary wall.
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The cell wall is composed of a great number of microfibrils, as indicated by the fine lines in this diagram. A microfibril is a bundle of cellulose polymer chains. Orientation of microfibrils is very specific for each layer. As shown here, microfibrils of the S2 layer run more or less parallel to the long axis of the cell, whereas microfibrils of the S1 and S3 run more or less horizontally. Orientation of microfibrils in the primary wall is random. Minute structure of the cell wall largely determines properties of individual fibers as well as wood as a whole.

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Wood Chemistry

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If we look at still smaller units of structure, we discover the elemental and organic composition of wood. The three major elements of wood are carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. They are combined in complex molecules that are then joined into polymers. These polymers provide the structural integrity of wood. In addition, wood contains small quantities of other organic and inorganic compounds.

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The polymers of wood can be classified into three major types: cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. The proportion of the three polymers varies between species.

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Cellulose is the most important single compound in wood. It provides wood's strength. Cellulose is a product of photosynthesis. In photosynthesis, glucose and other sugars are manufactured from water and carbon dioxide. Glucose is first chemically changed to glucose anhydride by removal of one molecule of water from each glucose unit. These glucose anhydride units then polymerize into long chain cellulose molecules that contain from 5,000-10,000 glucose units. Because of the nature of the bonds between adjacent glucose anhydride units, the basic repeating unit of the cellulose polymer consists of two glucose anhydride units, and is called a cellobiose unit.

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Cellulose polymers are then arranged in a crystalline form where adjacent polymers are bonded together laterally by the hydroxyl groups (OH) that occur in each cellobiose unit. These lateral bonds are not as strong as the end-to-end bonds that join the glucose anhydride units into long chain molecules, but they are strong enough to provide the strength of wood and also affect other physical properties.

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Hemicelluloses are a group of compounds similar to cellulose, but with a lower molecular weight, i.e., the number of repeating end-to-end molecules is only about 150 compared to the 5,000-10,000 of cellulose. They are produced from glucose as well as the other sugars (such as galatose, mannose, xylose, and arabinose) produced in photosynthesis. Hemicelluloses are thus a mixture of various polymerized sugar molecules. In some cases the polymers are straight chained like cellulose, but polymers with short side chains are also common.

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Lignin is a class of complex, high molecular weight polymers whose exact structure varies. It is an amorphous, i.e., not crystalline, polymer that acts as a binding agent to hold cells together. Lignin also occurs within cell walls to impart rigidity. Like cellulose and hemicellulose, lignin is made from carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. However, these elements are arranged differently so that they are not classified as carbohydrates. They are instead classified as phenolics, and the polymer is based on the phenylpropane unit.
original source: Adler, E. 1977. Lignin chemistry-Past, present and future. Wood Sci. Technol. 11, 169-218.

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There are many other chemical compounds in wood. They usually make up only a small percent of the total composition of wood, but in some cases can be considerably more. In most cases these compounds are not an essential part of the structure of wood. One class of compounds is called extractives, and represents a wide range of classes of compounds. One group of extractives that is important commercially is the oleoresins, from which turpentine and various other oils and rosin are derived. Another group of extractives are polyphenols, which include tannins, flavones, kinos, and lignans.
Other organic compounds include gums, tropolones, fats, fatty acids, and waxes. There are also inorganic compounds in wood. They are generally called ash as a group. Calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and silicon are common elements in wood. Silicon is important because it is abrasive and causes dulling of machine tools.
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Application of Wood Structure


Wood identification is possible with a working knowledge of wood anatomy. Basic knowledge of wood structure is essential to determining the best use for each wood type. Extending the structure concept to the molecular level permits discovery and use of many chemical compounds which may be isolated or synthesized from wood. Thus, a study of structure is the foundation upon which wood science and technology is built and is fundamental for a material science approach to wood as a renewable engineering material.
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A number of books are available on the topic of wood structure and wood chemistry. A couple of recommend references are:
Core, H.A., W.A. Cote, and A.C. Day. 1979. Wood Structure and Identification, 2nd ed. Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, New York. Note: This book is out of print but occasionally available at used book stores and via the internet.

Fengel, D. and G. Wegener. 1984. Wood: Chemistry, Ultrastructure, Reactions. W. DeGruyter, New York.
Hoadley, R. B. 1990. Identifying Wood: Accurate Results with Simple Tools. Taunton Press, Newtown, CT. Kozlowski, T.T. and S.G. Pallardy. 1997. Physiology of Woody Plants, 2nd ed. Academic Press, San Diego, CA. Panshin, A.J. and C. deZeeuw. 1980. Textbook of Wood Technology, 4th ed. McGraw Hill Book Company, New York. Sjostrom, E. 1981. Wood Chemistry: Fundamentals and Applications. Academic Press, New York. The Nature of Wood and Wood Products. 1996. CD ROM, Forest Products Society, Madison, WI. http://www.forestprod.org/
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Additional information concerning careers in the general field of wood science and technology, including those in production management, process engineering, technical sales, and product development can be obtained by contacting: Society of Wood Science and Technology One Gifford Pinchot Drive Madison, WI 53726 http://www.swst.org

SWST Teaching Unit 1 Slide Set 2