From the preface:
"This list of microscopic features for hardwood identification is the successor to the Standard List of Characters Suitable for Computerized Hardwood Identification published in 1981 with an explanation of the coding procedure by R.B. Miller. The 1981 publication greatly stimulated international exchange of information and experience on characters suitable for hardwood identification, and inspired considerable debate on the most desirable coding procedures and identification programs. Therefore, at the IAWA meeting during the XIV International Botanical Congress in Berlin, July 1987, it was decided to revise the 1981 standard list. Because of the continuining developments in computer technology and programming, it was agreed to limit the scope of the new list to definitions, explanatory commentary, and illustrations of wood anatomical descriptors, rather than concentrate on coding procedures.
Although this list has 163 anatomical and 58 miscellaneous features, it is not a complete list encompassing all the structural patterns that one can encounter in hardwoods. Instead it is intended to be a concise list of features useful for identification purposes. Also, the numbers assigned to each feature in the present list are not meant to be codes for a computer program, but are intended to serve for easy reference, and to help translate data from one program / database to another.
Wood and wood cells are biological elements, formed in trees, shrubs, and climbers to fulfill a physiological or mechanical function. Although there is more discrete diversity in wood structure than in many other plant parts, there is also much continuous variation, and any attempt to classify this diversity into well-defined features has an artificial element. Yet we are confident that in the feature list presented here ambiguity of descriptors has been limited to a minimum, and we hope that all present and future colleagues engaged and descriptive wood anatomy will find this list a valuable guide and reference."
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