Commercial Timbers


H. G. Richter and M. J. Dallwitz


This database contains descriptions and an interactive identification system for hardwood taxa common in the international trade that occur in all major forest regions of the world. The package is designed primarily for use by researchers in wood and forest science, and educational facilities active in teaching wood anatomy and wood identification.

The package has been elaborated and is being maintained at the Federal Research Centre for Forestry and Forest Products, Hamburg, Germany, in the form of a DELTA database (Dallwitz 1980; Dallwitz, Paine and Zurcher 1993). It was created with the intent to facilitate identification of trade timbers and information retrieval about their wood structure, for use by individuals and institutions that do not have a large institutional wood collection at their disposal.

The database contains at present the coded descriptions of more than 350 taxa (commercial timbers). The characters and accompanying character notes adhere to the IAWA List of Microscopic Features for Hardwood Identification (IAWA 1989; check with the IAWA Web site), except for some additional characters not referred to in the IAWA list. About 75% characters are illustrated, and also about 75% of the taxa. Hence, the version distributed is, and will remain for some time to come, a test version, which does not claim to be ‘complete’ (it probably will never be). Work on the taxon illustrations will continue and new taxa will be added to the database as need arises and time permits.

Identification and interrogation of the data can be conducted in five languages: English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish.

The interactive identification and information retrieval package uses the free program Intkey (Dallwitz, Paine and Zurcher 1995, 2000). It provides convenient and flexible access to most of the information in the DELTA database.