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How to Identify Conifers - Page 1 of 10
By Ed Strauss, Washington (photos and content)

If you are not familiar with specimen selection or preliminary identification please read the article: How to identify fossil wood.

There are no species or single genus of conifers (softwood) that can be identified with a hand lens. There are groups of genera that can be distinguished however. The easiest is the group of genera in the pine family that contain regular resin ducts.

Resin ducts seen in the transverse view (end grain) look similar to large solitary pores in hardwoods. However they are much more sparse. Another feature that distinguishes conifers is the tracheids in softwoods are uniform and lined up in neat rows.

This group with regular resin ducts contains all pine, douglas fir, spruce, and larch genera. Collectively they can be referred to as Pityoxylon or "Pine Family" (but do not include all members of that Family only the ones with regular resin ducts).

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