Wood Identification
November 18, 2015 12:51 PM   Subscribe

We've talked about wood identification before (previously), but there's so much more than The Wood Database, starting with Identification Of Common North American Woods.

Identification Of Common North American Woods presents a "choose your own adventure"-style identification key that eventually ends in the identification of your sample. The questions involve a lot of specialized terminology, but there is a glossary with example images to help.

Microscopic Wood Anatomy of Central European species offers a handy identification key for central European woods (handy if you own your own microtome, anyway).

The Forest Research Institute of Malaysia maintains an online wood identification tool with an easy-to-use interface that covers 54 types of wood commonly available in Malaysia.

Alternatively, the USDA Forest Products Laboratory Center for Wood Anatomy Research "will identify a maximum of five wood samples per household or business per calendar year as a free public service to U.S. citizens." (!) They also "try to accommodate inquiries from non-citizens, but such requests are typically assigned a low priority."

If you're in a hurry, aren't a US citizen, need more than 5 identifications per year, or you need to identify burnt wood (i.e. charcoal), then consider a private consultancy such as Alden Identification Service.

What if you still have a whole tree instead of a wood sample?

The Arbor Day Foundation's "What Tree is That?" tool can help identify American trees.

Virginia Tech's dendrology site covers trees, shrubs, brambles, and vines of North America, offering both dichotomous ("this or that") and interview-style interfaces.

The UK Forestry Commission has a tool for UK trees.

Baumkunde.de offers a (German-language) tool for identifying trees and shrubs found in Germany.
posted by jedicus (14 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Yup, that's wood, all right.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:03 PM on November 18, 2015

This summer I went on naturalist led adult nature walk with a naturalist who was clearly only really interested in trees. She knew about other stuff, and she shared some of it, but when it came to distinguishing two types of oak, she get much more energetic and excited. It was fun because trees are one of those things you can just sort of take for granted and learning to see them in a real way was cool and made the rest of the week spent in the New Hampshire woods more enjoyable, even if I've forgotten most of what I learned now.

It was also a lot of fun because the only other people signed up were all birders and were not interested in trees, which I found funny because I'm not a great person.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:09 PM on November 18, 2015 [5 favorites]

Nope, sorry, that's not wood, it's a witch.
posted by XMLicious at 1:23 PM on November 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

it's not a witch, it's a larch...
posted by k5.user at 1:24 PM on November 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

Wood you look at that? This is a rabbit hole I can get lost in.
posted by a halcyon day at 1:33 PM on November 18, 2015

Is 'morning' listed?
posted by Splunge at 1:58 PM on November 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

carved white rabbit down a giant knot hole int the side of a massive stump?
posted by sammyo at 2:16 PM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Shit house door on a tuna boat.
posted by BentFranklin at 4:40 PM on November 18, 2015

Sorry I just had to.
posted by BentFranklin at 4:41 PM on November 18, 2015

Is that spruce? No, larch. Doesn't look big to me.
posted by X4ster at 5:56 PM on November 18, 2015

All those previouslies, and we've never had a link to the theme song...
posted by rory at 2:30 AM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here's a helpful video.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:13 AM on November 19, 2015

These people appear to respect wood.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:22 PM on November 19, 2015

That free wood identification service is pretty amazing. Reminds me of ye olde free government information mailed from Pueblo CO, which as a youth in the days before the internet I thought was the most wonderful thing.
posted by exogenous at 8:05 AM on November 24, 2015

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