A xilaria is more than a collection of woods
Having referenced specimens of the world's most important woods is necessary to identify the woods present in the market, in archaeological or historical findings, in carvings and other artistic representations, in structures, etc.
Having a wide range of woods from the world, containing not only the largest number of species but also the largest number of origins, is essential to optimize and improving wood identification systems.
The figure of the curator of the collection is vital and of great responsibility since, through his collaboration with botanists, he obtains perfectly referenced local wood specimens, which he validates and exchanges with other curators of referenced international xilarias. INIA's Xilaria is referenced in the Xilariorum 4.1 index of the International Association of Wood Anatomists (IAWA).
In order to facilitate the work of the anatomists in charge of carrying out the identification of woods, the xilarias usually also have microscope preparations of the woods of greatest commercial and / or scientific interest.
The study of wood anatomy an art
In general, the study of the anatomy of a wood allows us to determine the family and genus to which the sample belongs, but not always the species. This is so because of the anatomical similarity between many different woods. In many cases this information is enough to rule out that it belongs to the declared species, but when it is necessary to go further, the anatomist has to use other complementary methods or collaborate with other professionals, as in genetics or chemistry.
The exnovo identification of woods is a very complex task that requires the anatomist to carry out a preliminary study of all the existing evidences, among which are to know and analyze the origin and declared use, the external appearance (color, brightness, macroscopic characteristics), its physical properties (hardness, density). Therefore, the anatomist must be a highly trained professional in everything related to the market and geographical origins of the woods as well as in the physical characterization of the material.
Sometimes, when the size of the sample is very small or its state of conservation is very altered, the identification process becomes very complex. In these cases, the anatomist must carry out preliminary preparation and / or consolidation of the samples under analysis.
The anatomist is a frequent collaborator of the archaeologist, the restorer (of buildings, furniture or artistic works), the cabinetmaker, the wood merchant and even the police.
Due to the appearance of new wood identification methods based on genetic (DNA) or chemical analysis (DART-TOFMS, NIR, Isotopes), modern xilarias are incorporating new materials into their collections that contain complete sections of stems as well as different plant material (leaves, needles, etc.).