|Journal||Flora Malesiana Bulletin|
|Abstract||This book is designed as a practical guide for the identification of fossil and extant woods with the aid of a marginally perforated card key, based on the ones devised by Clarke and perfected in the well-known Hardwood and Softwood keys published by the Princes Risborough Laboratory in 1961 and 1948 (1966) respectively. Using the cards originally prepared for Metcalfe and Chalk’s Anatomy of the Dicotyledons, the Princes Risborough cards, and numerous additions to these sets, the authors have gained considerable experience with this time-honoured identification method. A microfiche of these cards can be purchased separately from the Botanical Museum of Harvard University.|
Besides general chapters and appendices on for instance wood structure and variability, and how to prepare wood for microscopic examination and how to use the key cards, the main body of the book consists of a richly illustrated catalogue of diagnostic characters to be used in wood identification. It is in this section that the book shows most of its weaknesses. This is because of numerous mistakes in the choice of illustrations or misleading legends to the latter. For instance: fig. 3c (p. 24) is said to show abrupt latewood in Larix laricina, but the earlywood-latewood transition zone is not included in the photomicrograph; on p. 68 the vessels of Nyssa are said to be predominantly in multiples of four or more but the photograph illustrates vessel pairs alternating with fibres (i.e., vessel multiples in a distinct radial pattern; the latter feature is illustrated on p. 69 with examples showing no sign of such a pattern at all!); the tangential vessel arrangement of fig. 4b, p. 70 is in fact oblique; Myrica is incorrectly credited with ephedroid perforations on p. 73; Sphenostemon pictured with the most beautiful example of scalariform intervessel pits is said to show spiral thickenings instead (p. 74); long and slender pit canals are mistaken for plasmodesmata on p. 83; essentially similar fibre-tracheids in Eucryphia are classified as belonging to two fibre types (p. 87); fibres of Sleumerodendron are mistaken for vascular tracheids and crystals in the Dicotyledons are illustrated with an example from Gnetum (p. 124). The quality of many of the photomicrographs leaves much to be desired.
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