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Wood Anatomy

SBP 4013/6013

SBP 4013/6013 Wood Anatomy

Course Description

(Prerequisite:  SBP 1103 or consent of instructor).  Two hours lecture. Three hours laboratory. Anatomy of commercial timber species; elements of botanical microtechnique, fundamentals of microscopy, and fundamental properties; gross and minute structural characteristics of wood leading to identification.

What can I expect to learn in this course?

  • The fundamentals of macro- and microscopic wood anatomy (wood cell and tissue types).

  • How to identify over 50 commercial wood species with a hand lens and a microscope.

  • The scientific names of over 50 North American commercial wood species.

  • Various non-anatomical methods of wood identification (machine vision, chemical, DNA).

  • How anatomical structure influences wood properties and features.

  • How wood identification can prevent illegal logging and trade of wood products.



Wood Identification with Hand Lens
Why Wood Anatomy?
  • To understand how anatomy influences wood properties

  • To identify wood species

  • To deter illegal logging 

  • To prevent commercial fraud

Lab Techniques
  • How to use hand lens 

  • How to use a microscope 

  • How to use a knife to prepare specimen surfaces for viewing

Online Resources
  • Insidewood

  • Wood Database

  • IAWA hardwood and softwood features lists

Wood Anatomy
  • Macrostructure

  • Primary/secondary growth

  • The cell wall

  • Structure of hardwoods

  • Structure of softwoods

  • Special figure
  • Structure of monocots 

  • Water and wood

  • Reaction wood

  • Deterioration

  • Defects

Wood Identification
  • Softwoods

    • The pines

    • Non-pine resinous species

    • The cedars

    • Non-resinous non-cedars

  • Hardwoods

    • Ring porous hardwoods

    • Semi ring porous hardwoods

    • Diffuse porous hardwoods

Non-Anatomical Wood ID
  • Machine vision

  • Chemical 

    • Stable isotope analysis​

    • Mass spectrometry (DART)

    • Near-infrared mass spectroscopy

  • DNA

    • DNA barcoding

    • Population genetics

    • DNA fingerprinting​

(Starkville Campus)

Starkville Campus Classroom


Wood Specimens

Wood Specimens


Lab Microscopes and Imaging


XyloTron (Machine Vision Identification)



Online Lectures

Online Lectures

Online Labs - Techniques

Online Labs - Techniques

Online Labs - Wood ID Tutorials

Online Labs - Wood ID Tutorials



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Since 2001, Dr. Owens has been involved in the global marketing and sourcing of wood products. Fluent in Japanese, he has lived abroad for eight years in East Asia and the Middle East. He holds a bachelor's degree in international relations from the University of Minnesota, a master's degree in East Asian languages from UCLA, and a doctoral degree in forest resources from Mississippi State University. He teaches courses in wood anatomy and forest products marketing and conducts research on lumber properties, nondestructive testing, and computer vision applications for wood identification.

Assistant Professor

Dept. of Sustainable Bioproducts

Mississippi State University


Email & Phone:

Tel: +1-662-325-6698


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Dept. of Sustainable Bioproducts

201 Locksley Way

Starkville, MS 39759

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