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    Author(s): Roger M. Rowell; Roger Pettersen; James S. Han; Jeffrey S. Rowell; Mandla A. Tshabalala
    Date: 2005
    Source: Handbook of wood chemistry and wood composites. Boca Raton, Fla. : CRC Press, 2005: pages 35-74.
    Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
    PDF: View PDF  (533 KB)


    In chemical terms, wood is best defined as a three-dimensional biopolymer composite composed of an interconnected network of cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin with minor amounts of extractives and inorganics. The major chemical component of a living tree is water, but on a dryweight basis, all wood cell walls consist mainly of sugar-based polymers (carbohydrates, 65–75%) that are combined with lignin (18–35%). Overall, dry wood has an elemental composition of about 50% carbon, 6% hydrogen, 44% oxygen, and trace amounts of inorganics. Simple chemical analysis can distinguish between hardwoods (angiosperms) and softwoods (gymnosperms) but such techniques cannot be used to identify individual tree species because of the variation within each species and the similarities among species. In general, the coniferous species (softwoods) have a higher cellulose content (40–45%), higher lignin (26–34%), and lower pentosan (7–14%) content as compared to deciduous species (hardwoods) (cellulose 38–49%, lignin 23–30%, and pentosans 19–26%).

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    Rowell, Roger M.; Pettersen, Roger; Han, James S.; Rowell, Jeffrey S.; Tshabalala, Mandla A. 2005. Cell wall chemistry. Handbook of wood chemistry and wood composites. Boca Raton, Fla. : CRC Press, 2005: pages 35-74.


    Analytic chemistry, plant cell walls, hemicellulose, polymers, wood chemistry, cellulose chemistry, lignin, juvenile wood, reaction wood, chemical utilization, ash, carbohydrate chemistry, bark extractives, holocellulsoe chemistry, wood extractives

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