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Wood Identification Services

We can identify most woods by anatomical wood identification. This technique involves looking at the cross section of a specimen under a hand lens and/or examining very thin slices of the wood under a microscope.   Patterns visible in the wood tissue allow us to identify the genus, species or species group. Anatomical wood identification is the most commonly used wood ID technique and very accurate when performed by a trained wood anatomist.  

Morus rubra

The cross section of red mulberry (Morus rubra) under a hand lens.

Pinus strobus

A radial section of eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) viewed under a microscope.

How to Request a Wood Identification

Please send your wood specimen(s) along with a cover letter to the following address.  Please include your name, address, email address, telephone number and a description of the type of service you require.  Please also indicate the geographical origin of the wood if known. 

Dr. Frank Owens

201 Locksley Way

Starkville, MS 39759



Important items to note:

  • Absent specific instructions in the cover letter to save and/or return the specimen(s), all samples will be discarded after identification.  In the event the client wishes us to send back the samples, s/he must provide a return address and pay for shipping.

  • We provide cost estimates by email after the samples have been received.  Basic service starts at US$100.  Costs increase depending on the level of difficulty and the amount of detail required in the report.  

  • Difficulty (and cost) increases when specimens are too small, improperly prepared, or damaged.  Ideally, samples should be about as big as a deck of playing cards and contain heartwood.  When that is not possible, the client should make every effort to maximize the size of the cross section. Splintered specimens with no cross section and cores are the most difficult to identify.  

  • Typical turnaround is five business days. Easy identifications can take less time.  More difficult IDs can take longer. 

  • In the case of multiple specimens, please label each with a unique number and/or letter.

  • We report basic identifications by email. The report is a one-page letter indicating the specimen number, the common name and the Latin scientific name.  In most cases, we can identify only to the genus level as species belonging to the same genus are often indistinguishable anatomically from one another.  Longer, more detailed or hardcopy reports are more costly. 

  • Inquiries not covered above can be directed to Dr. Frank Owens by email at

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