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The Tell-Tale Heart Some Tall Tales of Heart Pine


									    The Tell-Tale Heart:
Some Tall Tales of Heart Pine

       Alex C. Wiedenhoeft,
       Center for Wood Anatomy
       Research, Forest Products

Heart pine? Prove it.

Heart pine? Define it, then
         prove it.

  Toward a scientifically (and
legally) defensible definition of
           heart pine
     Why do we need a
   defensible definition?
• Customer disputes
• Science says that some of the
  operating definitions are not
• Pre-emptive self-regulation
  can be a marketing tool
         Edgar Allen Poe:
       The Tell-Tale Heart
• A man murders his neighbor and
  conceals the body beneath a wood
• He flaunts the perfection of his
  concealment by speaking with the
  police in the very room where the
  corpse is hidden
• A paroxysm of guilt, spurred by the
  imagined sound of the victim’s
  beating heart, drives him to
The Tell-Tale Heart and
             Heart Pine
• A man murders his          • Proposed sale of so-
  neighbor and conceals        called heart pine
  the body beneath a
  wood floor
• He flaunts the             • Positive identification
  perfection of his            impossible
  concealment by
  speaking with the police
  in the very room where
  the corpse is hidden
• A paroxysm of guilt,
  spurred by the             • Confession not likely,
  imagined sound of the        but when asked I will
  victim’s beating heart,      have to play the role of
  drives him to confess        confessor
     Edgar Allen Poe:
Not A Cheerful Fellow

• A parable for Heart Pine purveyors?
• Wood identification
  • In general
  • Of deconstructed materials
• “Heart Pine”
  • Definitions
  • Identification
       Wood Identification
• Scientific wood identification
  depends on recognition of patterns
  of cells, mostly under the
• Generally accurate at the generic
  rather than specific level (e.g.
  Betula - birch, rather than B. nigra
  - river birch)
            Informal wood
    identification systems
• Scratch and Sniff

• Boy Scout Wood ID: Pine or Oak
   • My less confident version as a
     neophyte: “Pine vs. probably not

• Single Trait Utilization Protocol ID
   • Usually perpetrated over the phone…
          Formal wood
identification systems
• Reference Wood Collection
• University Course
• Books: Bruce Hoadley -
  Identifying Wood; Panshin &
  deZeeuw - Textbook of Wood
  Technology; and lesser texts
• Computer programs: InsideWood,
  Delta, CSIROID, Guess
• Others too numerous and of little
  use to list
Pattern recognition and
         • Human identification
           • Twins
              • Careful observation
              • Specific characters
                  • Trial, error
              • Pattern recognition
                  • Automatic use of
           • Acquaintances
         • Bird identification
         • Wood identification
         • All depend on pattern
       Scientific Wood ID

• Correlative observation
   • Look with a lens
   • Relate that to the microscope

• Find and understand technical,
  microscopic anatomical characters

• Compare to reference specimens

• This is how scientific wood identification
  is done
Macroscopic view
Macroscopic view
             Correlative Observation

This is the same wood (red oak,
Quercus sp.), at three different
             Wood ID of
  Deconstructed Materials
• Common construction species
  • Mostly softwoods
     • Not easy to ID correctly without
  • Relatively few hardwoods
     • Generally easy with a hand lens
• Assumption of antiquity not always
• Color, smell, general appearance
              Wood ID of
   Deconstructed Materials
• Geographic location not always
  indicative of origin of wood:
  • Proximity to waterways
  • Built after completion of Trans-
    continental railroad
  • Dubious historical records -
    renovations, additions
        Components of a
definition for heart pine

•   Species identification
•   Heartwood vs. sapwood
•   Maturity of tree (‘old growth’)
•   Time since harvest (‘antique’)
   Species identification
    and scientific names
• All pines are in the genus Pinus
• Longleaf pine, and only longleaf
  pine, is Pinus palustris - this is the
  species name
• Longleaf pine belongs to the
  southern yellow pine group, based
  on its identifiable wood anatomy
• I would record it as Pinus sp.,
  southern yellow pine group
Heartwood vs. sapwood
• Differences:
  • Extractives
  • Relative
    position in tree
  • Not always

• Anatomically
     Maturity of tree and
      time since harvest
• ‘Old growth’
• Mature
• Diameter
• Rings per inch
• Recently-cut
  mature tree
• Antique vs.
Conventional wisdom in
    identifying longleaf
• Density (Basic specific gravity)
  • Longleaf    (0.49) 0.54 (0.59)
  • Pond        (0.46) 0.51 (0.56)
  • Loblolly    (0.42) 0.47 (0.52)
  • Pitch       (0.42) 0.47 (0.52)
  • Shortleaf   (0.42) 0.47 (0.52)
• Overlap renders the character
      Some definitions of
             Heart Pine
1) Any softwood
2) The heartwood of any
3) Any pine
4) The heartwood of any pine
5) Any southern yellow pine
6) The heartwood of any
   southern yellow pine
       Some definitions of
              Heart Pine
7. Any longleaf pine
8. The heartwood of longleaf pine
9. Any antique southern yellow pine
10. The heartwood of any antique
    southern yellow pine*
11. Any antique longleaf pine
12. The heartwood of antique
    longleaf pine
   Take-home message:
• Longleaf pine is not
  scientifically separable from
  the other southern yellow
• This means that no one can
  prove that they have longleaf
  pine, only that they have a
  southern yellow pine
   Take-home message:
• Thus, an operating definition,
  to be scientifically and legally
  defensible, would ideally
  incorporate what can be
• Anything else will leave
  purveyors of heart pine open
  to potential disputes
Questions and

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