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Strahov Monastery Xylotheque (1825)
Volumes in a xylotheque in Lilienfeld, Austria
Interior of the Xiloteque Manuel Soler, in Dénia (Spain)

A xylotheque or xylothek (from the Greek xylon for "wood" and "theque" meaning "repository") is special form of herbarium that consists of a collection of authenticated wood specimens.[1] It is also known as a xylarium (from the Greek xylon for "wood" and Latin "arium" meaning "separate place"). Traditionally, xylotheque specimens were in the form of book-shaped volumes, each made of a particular kind of wood and holding samples of the different parts of the corresponding plant. While the terms are often used interchangeably, some use xylotheque to refer to these older collections of wooden 'books' and xylarium for modern collections in which some or all of the specimens are in simpler shapes, such as blocks or plaques with information engraved on their surfaces.[1] Many countries have at least one xylotheque with native flora, and some also house flora from other parts of the world. They are valuable to specialists in forestry, botany, conservation, forensics, art restoration, paleontology, archaeology, and other fields.[2]


Xylotheques date back to the later 17th century, when wood specimens began to appear in cabinets of curiosity.[3] Over time, they grew larger and more systematic, with hundreds of individual volumes in a single collection. The oldest extant collection was established in 1823 at the University of Leningrad, and by the middle of the century they had been established in many European countries.[1][3][4] Australia now houses 12 xylaria holding 11% of the world's wood specimens,[4] while the Oxford Forestry Institute's xylarium holds about 13%.[1]

In older xylotheques, the wooden volumes were typically made out of the same wood as the specimens inside and sometimes decorated with tree bark and associated lichens and mosses.[3] Each volume housed seeds, flowers, twigs, and leaves from the corresponding tree or bush, along with a written description hidden in a small compartment set into the inner spine. An alternative form of xylotheque found in Japan and elsewhere featured paintings of the plant parts rather than actual field specimens.[3]

Even a modest collection of wood samples has value, as each of its samples has a particular history. Xylotheques provide comparison samples for xylotomy, art historical studies, and scientific studies of the physical and mechanical properties of wood, such as durability and preservation. Xylotheques are also useful for anyone who needs to make a morphological-visual analysis of wood.

The xylotheque with the largest number of samples is the Samuel James Record Collection in the United States, which holds 98,000 samples. Formerly housed at the Forestry School of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, it was transferred to the U.S. Forest Service's Forest Products Laboratory in 1969.[1][5] The second largest xylotheque belongs to the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium, with 57,000 samples.[1] The Thünen Institute of Wood Research in Hamburg has more than 37,000 samples.[6]

Selected xylotheques[edit]

Xyloteque Samples
Xylarium Bogoriense, Bogor (Indonesia) 187,657[7]
Madison, Wisconsin (United States) 98,000[1]
Tervuren (Belgium) 57,000[1]
Hamburg (Germany) 37,000[6]
RBG Kew (UK) 34,000[8]
São Paulo (Brazil) 17,000[9]
Beecroft (Australia) 13,000[9]

Index xylariorum[edit]

The Index xylariorum is a listing of the world's xyleria. It was conceived of by William Louis Stern (1926 - ) who first published the work in 1967.[10] A subsequent work in 1981 was published by the Botanic Garden of the Polish Academy of Sciences as "No. 1" of the series.[11] Stern then published the third revised edition of this work in 1988.[12] Anna H. Lynch and Peter E. Gasson compiled Index Xylariorum 4.1 in 2010, and the International Association of Wood Anatomists updated the list in 2016 under the supervision of Frederic Lens.[13] In addition to the link to the PDF of this document provided in the reference list of this article, Index Xylariorum 4.1 can also be accessed online as a database through the Global Timber Tracking Network website here.

Below is a list of the Index xylariorum codes, locations, and institutional names included by Stern in his 1988 Index xylariorum.[12] This list is provided for historic context.

Collapsed list of historic Index xylariorum codes and locations from 1988 publication[12]
Index xylariorum Code Institution Name
Aw CAMBRIDGE: Harvard University.
ALCw ALCOBAÇA; Estacao de Experimentaçâo Florestal.
AMw AMLAI: Birla Institute of Scientific Research.
ARw YEZIN: Forest Research Institute.
Bw BERLIN-DAHLEM: Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum Berlin-Dahlem.
BBSw PARAMARIBO; Surinam Forest Service.
BCTw SÄO PAULO: Instituto de Pesquisas Tecnológicas do Estado de Sao Paulo.
BHVs BERLIN: Museum für Naturkunde der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.
BISHw HONOLULU: Bemice P. Bishop Museum.
BKFw BANGKOK: Royal Forest Department.
BMw LONDON: British Museum (Natural History).
BOFw BOGOTÁ: Instituto de Investigaciones Forestales y Madereras.
BPw BUDAPEST: Hungarian Museum of Natural History.
BRIw BRISBANE: Queensland Herbarium.
BSILw LUCKNOW: BirbalSahni Institute of Paleobotany.
BULHw BULOLO: Papua New Guinea Forestry College.
BWCw SYRACUSE: College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
BZFw BOGOR: Lembaga Penelitian Hasil Hutan (Forest Products Research Institute).
CAFw BEIJING: Chinese Academy of Forestry.
CANBw CANBERRA: Australian National Herbarium.
CEPECw ILHEUS: Centro de Pesquisas do Cacau.
CHITw CHTITAGONG: Forest Research Institute.
CHNw CHRISTCHURCH: University of Canterbury.
CHRw CHRISTCHURCH: Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.
CLPw COLLEGE: Forest Products Research and Development Institute.
CONCw CONŒPCIÔN: Universidad de Concepción.
CQTw BRISBANE: Queensland Department of Forestry.
CTBw PARIS: Centre Technique du Bois et de l'Ameublement.
CTFw NOGENT-SUR-MARNE: Cenfre Technique Forestier Tropical.
CVRDw LINHARES: Reserva Florestal da CVRD.
Dw DELFT: TNO Timber Research Institute.
DBw DUBLIN: University College.
DDw DEHRADUN: Forest Research Institute and Colleges.
DEQw QUITO: instituto Ecuatoriano de Ciencias Naturales.
DREw DRESDEN: Wissenschaftlich-technisches Zentrum der holzverarbeitenden Industrie.
ECw HEREDIA: Universidad Nacional.
EIFw SANTIAGO: Universidad de Chile.
ESAw PIRACICABA: Universidade de Säo Paulo.
FHIw IBADAN: Forest Research Institute of Nigeria.
FHOw OXFORD: University of Oxford.
FIw FLORENCE: Herbarium Universitatis Florentinae and Erbario Tropicale di Firenze.
FLw FLORENCE: Istituto per la Ricerca sul Legno.
FLASw GAINESVILLE: University of Florida.
FPAw HIGHETT: Commonwealth Scientific and Industriai Research Organization.
FPBw BRASILIA: instituto Brasileiro de Desenvolvimento Florestal.
FRw FRANKFURT AM MAIN: Naturmuseum und Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg.
FRIGw GUANGZHOU: Forest Research Institùte of Guangdong Province.
GTw GEORGETOWN: Guyana Forestry Commission.
HBw HAVANA: Centro de Investigación Forestal.
HBRw ITAJAI: Herbario "Barbosa Rodrigues."
HEFw HEFEI: Anhui Agricultural College.
HMw LONDON: The Homiman Museum and Library.
IFPw SHENYANG: Institute of Forestry and Pedology.
IICAw TURRIALBA: Universidad de Costa Rica.
IJw KINGSTON: Institute of Jamaica.
INPAw MANAUS: Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia.
ITAw MANAUS: Instituto de Tecnologia da Amazônia.
JARIw MONTE DOURADO: Superintendência de Pesquisa Florestal.
Kw KEW: Royal Botanic Gardens, Economic and Conservation Section.
KARw KARAJ: College of Natural Resources.
KEPw KEPONG: Forest Research Institute Malaysia.
K-Jw KEW: Royal Botanic Gardens, Jodrell Laboratory.
KNw KAMPALA: Nakawa Forest Research Institute.
KYOw KYOTO: Kyoto University.
Lw LEIDEN: Rijksherbarium.
LAEw LAE: Department of Forests.
LEw LENINGRAD: V. L. Komarov Botanical Institute.
LILw TUCUMÁN: Instituto Miguel Lillo.
LISJCw LISBON: Jardim e Museu Agrícola Tropical.
LIVw LIVERPOOL: Liverpool Museum.
LNECw LISBON: Laboratòrio Nacional de Engenharia Civil.
MADw MADISON: U.S. Forest Products Laboratory.
MADRw MADRID: Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Agrarias.
MAD-SJRw MADISON: U.S. Forest Products Laboratory.
MCSw MILAN: Civico Museo de Storia Naturale.
MEDELw MEDELLIN: Universidad Nacional.
MERw MÉRIDA: Universidad de los Andes.
MEXFW MÉXICO: Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales.
MEXUw MÉXICO: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
MGw BELÉM: Museu Paraense Emflio Goeldi.
MICHw ANNARBOR: University of Michigan.
MUNw MUNICH: Universität München.
NATw ILANOTH: Agricultural Research Organisation.
NINw MANAGUA: Nicaraguan Institute of Natural Resources and Environment.
NMWw CARDIFF: National Museum of Wales.
NYw BRONX: The New York Botanical Garden.
NYJw PORTLAND: World Forestry Center.
OLw OTTAWA: Forintek Canada Corporation.
PACw RALEIGH: North Carolina State University.
PATw PARIS: Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle.
PFPw PRETORIA: South African Forestry Research Institute.
PMPw BOROKO: Forest Products Research and Development Centre.
PRFw PRINCES RISBOROUGH: Building Research Establishment.
PTw PRAGUE: Timber Research and Development Institute.
RBw RIO DE JANEIRO: Jardim Botànico do Rio de Janeiro.
RBHw HAMBURG: Bundesforschungsanstalt für Forst- und Holzwirtschaft.
RFw ROSENHEIM: Fachhochschule Rosenheim.
RPPRw RIO PIEDRAS: Instituteof Tropical Forestry.
RSAw CLAREMONT: Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.
RTIw AMSTERDAM: Royal Tropical Institute.
SANw SANDAKAN: Forest Research Centre.
SARFw KUCKNG: Forest Department.
SFCw BEECROFT: Forestry Commission of New South Wales.
SPw SÄO PAULO: Instituto de Botànica.
S-PAw STOCKHOLM: Swedish Museum of Natural History.
SPSFw SÄO PAULO: Instituto Florestal de Säo Paulo.
STEw STELLENBOSCH: University of Stellenbosch.
SVw HAVANA: Academia de Ciencias de Cuba.
SWTw STOCKHOLM: Swedish Institute for Wood Technology Research.
SYSw GUANGZHOU: Sun Yat-Sen University.
SZDw SZEGED: Universitatis Szeged.
Tw TERVUREN: Koninklijk Museum voor Midden-Afrika (Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale).
TAIw TAIPEI: National Taiwan University.
TAIFw TAIPEI: Taiwan Forestry Research Institute.
TAUw THESSALONIKI: Aristotelian University.
TIPw RECIFE: Fundaçâo Instituto Tecnológico do Estado Pemambuco.
TOFOw TOKYO: University of Tokyo.
TRTw TORONTO: University of Toronto.
TSFw THARANDT: Technische Universität Dresden.
TWTw TSUKUBA: Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute.
Uw UTRECHT: Rijksuniversiteit te Utrecht.
UCw RICHMOND: University of California.
UCNWw BANGOR: University College of North Wales.
USw WASHINGTON: Smithsonian Institution.
VENw CARACAS: Instituto Botánico.
VFw VIENNA: Forstlichen Bundesversuchsanstalt.
VLw VANCOUVER: Forintek Canada Corporation.
WAGw WAGENINGEN: Department of Plant Taxonomy, Agriculmral University.
WDw WINTERTHUR: The Henry Francis du Pont WinterthuT Museum.
WFw ADELAIDE: Woods and Forest Department.
WIBw WAGENINGEN: Department of Forestry Techniques, Agricultural University.
WLw WAGENINGEN: Botanisch Laboratorium.
WZw ROTORUA: Forest Research Institute.
XALw XALAPA: Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Sobre Recursos Bióticos.
YANw YANGLING: Northwestern College of Forestry.
ZAw ZAGREB: University of Zagreb.
ZTw ZÜRICH: Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule.

In popular culture[edit]

For documenta 13 in 2012, American artist Mark Dion created a new hexagonal display chamber for the Schildbach Xylotheque at the Natural History Museum in Kassel, Germany. As part of the project, he created six new volumes made of wood from each of the continents (excluding Antarctica).[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Xylarium" Claude E. Phillips Herbarium, Delaware State University.
  2. ^ "Xylarium". Kerala Forest Research Institute.
  3. ^ a b c d Lovejoy, Bess. "Xylotheks: Wondrous Wooden Books That Hold Wooden Collections". Atlas Obscura, May 22, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Hopewell, Gaz. "The Queensland Government Xylaria". Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland Government.
  5. ^ "Forest Products Laboratory - USDA Forest Service". www.fpl.fs.fed.us. Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  6. ^ a b "Service for Timber Trade Associations and Consumers". Thünen Institute.
  7. ^ "Ministry to name Bogor's Xylarium world's largest wood collection". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  8. ^ "Wood collection (xylarium)", Kew Royal Botanic Gardens.
  9. ^ a b "FAO Forestry Paper 71". Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1986.
  10. ^ Stern, William Louis (1967). Index xylariorum: institutional wood collections of the world (1st ed.). Utrecht: International Bureau for Plant Taxonomy and Nomenclature of the International Association for Plant Taxonomy. OCLC 460416.
  11. ^ Index Xylariorum. No. 1, 1980-1981. Warsaw: Botanic Garden of the Polish Academy of Sciences. 1981. OCLC 82560516.
  12. ^ a b c Stern, William Louis (1988). Index xylariorum: institutional wood collections of the world (3rd ed.). Leiden: Rijksherbarium for the International Association of Wood Anatomists. OCLC 19862369.
  13. ^ Lynch, Anna H.; Gasson, Peter E.; Lens, Frederic (March 2010) [Updated: March 2016]. Index Xylariorum 4.1 (PDF) (Report). International Association of Wood Anatomists. Retrieved 7 June 2019 – via www.iawa-website.org.
  14. ^ Brindley, Jack. "Mark Dion - The Schildbach Xylotheque 'Wood Library'". Open File, Aug. 6, 2012.

External links[edit]