LIGNAMUNDI – italian version


This book is designed as an identification guide and a compendium of the properties, characteristics, distribution, sustainability, and uses of temperate and tropical woods from around the world.
In addition, these pages provide many insights that will satisfy the curiosity of enthusiasts; for example, what causes curly grain, what makes Stradivarius violins the best in the world, where the term “rosewood” comes from, the difference between Santo Domingo mahogany and Honduras mahogany, the world’s oldest tree, the heaviest wood in the world, and what causes spalting, to name just a few.

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This book is designed as an identification guide and a compendium of the properties, characteristics, distribution, sustainability, and uses of temperate and tropical woods from around the world.
In addition, these pages provide many insights that will satisfy the curiosity of enthusiasts; for example, what causes curly grain, what makes Stradivarius violins the best in the world, where the term “rosewood” comes from, the difference between Santo Domingo mahogany and Honduras mahogany, the world’s oldest tree, the heaviest wood in the world, and what causes spalting, to name just a few. With the intention of offering a broad overview of the incredible diversity that this material offers, the authors have included, along with familiar woods like chestnut, poplar, Norway spruce, rubberwood, obeche, wengé, iroko, etc., many lesser-known ones such as amoora, andiroba, neem, and pulai, which are substitutes — or potential substitutes — of the better-known ones, as well as rare and precious woods, e.g. rosewood, ebony, mahogany, and snakewood, many of which have been prized since ancient times and are difficult to source today.
The information included in each wood description is presented in the guide below, which will assist the reader in the understanding and correct use of the data provided.

Closed format 16×23 cm. Open format 32×23 cm.

N. 480 internal pages color printed 4/4 on Magno Volume FSC 115 gr/mq.
Color print 4/0 on Gardamatt FSC 150 gr/mq cardboard and matte laminated
Sirio paper FSC 140 gr/mq without print
Hardback, Thread, Capital.
English version based on the translation of the Italian original text.

Flavio Ruffinatto
He is an adjunct professor for the Master’s Degree Course in Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage at the University of Turin and a wood identification consultant for individuals, companies, museums, laboratories, associations and institutions. He has worked at the Department of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (DISAFA) in Turin, the Center for Wood Anatomy and Research in Madison, Wisconsin (USA) and the Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture and Forestry (TESAF) in Padua.

Gianni Cantarutti
He is a wood expert and consultant with international experience.
He collaborates with interior design companies and professionals.
The curator of Xyloteca “Lignamundi” in San Giovanni al Natisone (Udine).
He promotes the marketing of products under the brands “Lignamundi,” “Slow Wood” and “Vuès” through the company “,” of which he is the director.

In this volume, the nomenclature used to identify each wood is of two types: scientific and common.
The scientific name refers to the botanical classification of the tree from which the wood is obtained, which ensures that each living organism is uniquely defined by a Latin binomial identifying its genus and species. For example, according to this nomenclature, the tree we know
as the European oak is defined as Quercus petraea.
Common nomenclature, conversely, refers to the name, or names, most used. Scientific nomenclature is unambiguous, international (the term Quercus petraea is used for a single species and is the same all over the world), and therefore reliable; by contrast, common nomenclature is
often ambiguous (e.g. “rosewood” is applied to a multitude of different woods, many of them not botanically related to each other) and varies according to geographical location (European oak is called “chêne” in France, “eiche” in Germany, “rovere” in Italy, etc.), to the extent that the common name may often cause a misinterpretation of the true identity of a specific wood.
Furthermore, while in the case of temperate woods the common name usually corresponds to the name of the standing tree, meaning, for example, that the term “cherry” is used to identify both the Prunus avium tree and the wood that is produced from it, this is not usually the case with tropical species. In the latter, the name of the wood often does not correspond to the name of the tree, especially when, as sometimes happens, the name has been purposely devised for commercial purposes (a notable example being “Tanganyika walnut”) and/or the wood of several different species is marketed under a single term, like for example doussié, a wood from Africa that includes several species of the genus Afzelia.

For the reasons stated above, the woods are presented here in alphabetical order according to their scientific name; in the many cases where a single commercial wood is sourced by more than one species, or by an entire genus, this is specified in the introductory text.
The scientific nomenclature is constantly evolving; the name used here is the one currently in use at the time of publication based on, the database that also lists any synonyms (unapproved or obsolete names) for each species.

This volume is designed first of all to be an identification atlas.
For this reason, each wood is presented as comprehensively as possible, showing its appearance both through selected wood samples, and through objects and works of art. The figures provided on the left-hand side strip of each species are predominantly a 2:1 scale to illustrate the surface of the wood in detail.
All the samples and objects featured belong to the Lignamundi Xyloteca, a collection that Gianni Cantarutti ( has assembled over decades of travel and passionate work, in collaboration with professionals from all over the world.
However, identifying an individual wood requires a more detailed examination than just a superficial observation of its most evident features. This is why we have provided each wood with two additional key elements:

• an image of its transverse surface (also known as the “cross section”) sanded to 1000 grit and
enlarged to approximately 10×1;
• a description of its macroscopic characters based on the publication “Ruffinatto F, Crivellaro A, Wiedenhoeft AC. 2015.

Review of macroscopic features for hardwood and softwood identification and a proposal for a new character list. IAWA J 36:208–241”. A complete guide to the macroscopic characters used in this volume, their definitions, and how to prepare samples for observation is available for free download at the link, where the digital identification keys described below are also provided. At the same link, readers may also download a general introduction on the structure of wood: “Ruffinatto F, Negro F, Crivellaro A. 2022. The macroscopic structure of wood. Forests 14, 644.”

Macroscopic identification is an internationally recognised scientific method of wood identification which, through the use of a standard loupe (10x or 14x) allows the identification of an unknown sample based on objective elements, referred to as “macroscopic characters”. Some of these
are related to the physical properties of wood (for example, colour, density, scent), but most are determined by its anatomical structure, namely the shape, size, arrangement, and grouping of the cells that form the wood tissue. Most of the latter characters are visible on the cross section, which is why careful observation of the transverse surface is usually essential to achieve reliable results.
Since the general description of the method, and the complete list of the characters and their definitions, are freely available at the link mentioned above, we did not include them in this volume, to allow more space for wood descriptions.

Digital identification keys are tools designed to guide the reader through the identification of an unknown sample. At the link, there are two separate keys, one for hardwoods and one for softwoods, available in two distinct folders. Copy the folders to your PC, then select the .html file contained within them to launch the corresponding key. An offline window will open in your browser. On the left of the screen the list of characters (with their associated character states, which can be viewed by clicking on the ‘+’ to the left of each character) is displayed, and on the right the list of species. To use the key, simply select the character states observed on the specimen (for example, ring-porous: present; lozenge-aliform axial parenchyma: present; etc.) and the software will filter out only the species that have the chosen combination of character states. Rather than following the numerical order of the characters, we recommend starting from the most obvious characters visible on the sample under examination. For example, if on a hardwood specimen you see long bands of axial canals, first select the character “52. Axial canals: in long tangential lines” and you will immediately narrow down the selection to a few species. As an alternative to the loupe, or in addition to it, you can use a USB microscope, which at an affordable price can provide a more accurate view of some characters.

The physical and mechanical properties of each species are graphically displayed as radar plots.
This gives a quick overview of the ranking of each species with respect to each property.
The first graph displays the MOE2 (modulus of elasticity, N/mm2), MOR3 (modulus of rupture, N/mm2), Janka hardness (kgf), heartwood density (kg/m3), and the maximum stem diameter that is typically available (cm). Data have been obtained from Gérard et al. 2017, Giordano 1988 and
Meier 2016.
In the second graph, tangential shrinkage (TS), radial shrinkage (RS), and TS/RS ratio (the proportion of the first two values) are displayed. Data have been obtained from Cividini 2001, Gerard et al. 2017 and Meier 2016.
Some values, or an entire graph, may not be displayed if data were not available from the above cited references.

Durability data is presented in a tabular format. It includes resistance to wood dry insect borers (resistant, not resistant), resistance to termites (resistant, moderately resistant, not resistant), decay resistance (very durable, durable, moderately durable, slightly durable, not durable),
treatability (easy to treat, moderately easy to treat, difficult to treat, extremely difficult to treat) and sapwood width (very narrow, narrow, medium, wide). The classes follow the EN 350 Standard, and the data sources are EN 350 and Gérard et al. 2017.
One or more columns may not be present if the data were not available from the above cited sources. Sapwood width is not displayed for species with undifferentiated heartwood.

Several woods described in this volume may present sustainability issues. This is addressed in the introductory text of each wood, where any CITES listing and its relevant appendix are also indicated. CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) has the purpose of regulating the international trade of animals and plants. The official list of species protected by the Convention is regularly updated and includes three appendices with decreasing levels of protection. In principle, the trade of CITES-protected species is only possible if authorised by appropriate certificates, but restrictions may vary from species to species depending
on both the appendix and any specific provisions.
For each species, a coloured bar from green to red indicates its IUCN red list class. IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) is an non-governmental organisation that, as compared to CITES, does not have any power to regulate trade, but through its Red List of
Threatened Species, provides an important tool for the assessment of the conservation status of species, and consequently, their risk of extinction. The list is structured into seven classes, which in increasing order of risk are: least concern (species that are abundant and widespread), nearthreatened (species with values approaching the descriptions of one of the classes described hereafter), vulnerable (population decreased by 50% in 10 years, or in an area restricted to under 20000 km2, or the number of individuals under 10000), endangered (population decreased by 70% in 10 years, or in an area restricted to under 5000 km2 or the number of individuals under 2500), critically endangered (population decreased by 90% in 10 years, or range restricted under 100 km2, or the number of individuals under 250), extinct in the wild (its population consisting only of captive or cultivated/naturalised individuals outside their original habitat), and extinct (when the
last individual of the species has disappeared).
The bar mentioned above shows, in abbreviated form, the first five classes (none of the species described in this volume are listed in the last two), with the class the specific wood belongs to in black font, and the others in white. If the species is not classified by the IUCN, all the entries are white.
Lastly, the possible availability of FSC-certified material is indicated for each species. The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) is an NGO that promotes a forest certification system that provides evidence that the raw material used for a wood-based product comes from well-managed forests and that it is traceable. An overview on the role and purpose of FSC authored by Diego Florian, former Director of the National Office of FSC Italy, is available on page 12. To check for the latest information on whether a species is available with FSC certification and which companies supply it, visit the FSC website

Each wood is introduced by a short text that may provide, along with the above-mentioned possible sustainability issues, useful information such as terminology, historical, and technological notes and curiosities. In addition, a map for each species illustrates its geographical distribution,
with the countries where it is endemic or naturalised highlighted in green and those where it is introduced in yellow. It should be emphasised that this is not a true range of distribution of the species, because it does not take into account its actual distribution within each country, which is usually limited in relation to the total area of the country itself. The source of this information and data is To conclude, the most common uses are listed (sources: Giordano 1988, Gérard et al. 2017 and Meier 2016).

Some of the botanical genera covered in this book (for instance Cordia, Dalbergia, Eucalyptus, etc.) include a number of different commercial woods; in these cases, only one or a few species are described in full, while others are discussed more concisely, providing only photographs
and their geographical distribution as well as information on sustainability. These species are not necessarily listed alphabetically within the genus, but sometimes according to other listing criteria (for example, see Cordia).