Using the InsideWood web site: Potentials and pitfalls - Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew research repository
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Journal article

Using the InsideWood web site: Potentials and pitfalls

1 July 2020


The InsideWood web site is a freely accessible resource for research and teaching in wood anatomy and includes a multiple-entry key to aid in wood identification. Its database has over 9400 descriptions of fossil and modern woody dicots, representing over 10 000 species and 200 plant families, and is accompanied by over 50 000 images. The descriptions and the multiple key use the numbered features of the IAWA List of Hardwood Features for Wood Identification. The background for creating this web site, the rationale for how descriptions in the database were created, and the basics for using the multiple-entry key are given. The potentials of the ever-expanding and continuously edited database for microscopic wood identification are enormous. Yet many users experience problems when attempting the identification of an unknown sample. The main reasons for this are (1) erroneous or ambiguous interpretation of the IAWA Hardwood features; (2) incomplete coverage of the infraspecific wood anatomical variation in the literature for numerous entries in the InsideWood database. Against this background, we review all individual features of the IAWA Hardwood List and give their frequency in the database, and we suggest how to use their presence or absence in the multiple-entry key. All this is done with an awareness of the limitations of the IAWA Hardwood List and InsideWood. We give two examples of using InsideWood to try to identify an unknown wood. It cannot be overemphasized that it is necessary to consult reference materials (slides, literature descriptions) to verify the identification of an unknown.


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