If you’ve ever been hiking and discovered a unique gemstone that looks like wood and feels like a rock, you may have stumbled upon petrified wood.These fossils used to be wood but, over millions of years, turned into gemstones after they were replaced by minerals and retained the original stem tissue structure.There are lots of tips that can help you identify different types of petrified wood.
Step 1: The wood-colored specimen has a smooth texture.
The petrified wood that is easiest to identify has smooth, curvy sections that are often brownish bark.If they’re smooth, it’s the first sign that you’ve found petrified wood.Keep an eye out for small patches of red, orange, and tan around the smooth parts.Smooth sections are usually 3 to 5 inches in length.If the specimen has no bark but feels like wood, it’s probably petrified.Feel for jagged texture that could show where the specimen broke off from the tree.
Step 2: To check for transparency, hold the piece up to the light.
There are pieces of petrified wood that are transparent.If you can see through the bark, it’s a sign that the piece is petrified wood.If you can see your finger’s shadow through the transparent portions of the piece, you’ve done your job.
Step 3: The specimen should have thick portions of white in it.
Some pieces of petrified wood have thick portions of white in them.The portions are usually 2 inch thick.It’s more likely that your specimen is petrified wood if these portions are located alongside smooth bark-like regions and red, orange, and tan colors.Check for transparency by holding the white portion to the light.You can check for smooth portions by running your hand along the wood.
Step 4: Look for patterns that are similar to bark.
You won’t be able to identify the wood if the original cell structure is destroyed.Circles, grains, and anything that resembles bark can be seen with your naked eye.The cell structure is probably intact and can be identified if you spot any patterns.There are other trees growing in the area where you found the specimen.Take note of the patterns in the wood and try to find them in your specimen.Growth rings are the circles that define wood.
Step 5: Small round cells or rod-shaped vessels should be checked.
Each type of wood has cells that form different patterns.Some can be seen with a magnifying glass, but others need a microscope to see them.If you want to get a feel for the type of cell structures in the wood, try starting low and moving up in intensity.When looking for structures, move across the wood in a circular motion.There are small, round cells arranged in straight lines.The angiosperms have vessels instead of cells.These aren’t always neat and are not always round.Similar to corn, Gingko trees have a unique cell formation.
Step 6: The rays are thickness and variation.
There are lines that run from the center of the tree to the edge.Some wood types have thin rays, while others have thicker ones.In some cases, the rays vary in width.Take note of the rays in your petrified wood and compare them to the characteristics of different wood types.Large and small fruit-bearing trees have different types of rays.Pine trees have narrow rays.It is easier to see rays in hardwoods than it is in softwoods.
Step 7: The cells and rays should be looked for.
The only types of ducts found in evergreen trees are the large ones.They are found in many trees.Without magnification, the ducts are visible.They are only visible by magnification in other species.Cell structures and rays can be compared with distinguishing features.If you notice that your wood has rays that are straight and narrow, you can conclude that the wood is likely pine.If you can’t see any ducts, the specimen is a tree that has lost its leaves.
Step 8: By color, identify trace elements of minerals.
The colors of petrified wood are not useful for determining specific minerals or tree species.They can be used to determine which trace elements are in petrified wood.Take note of the colors in your petrified wood and find its corresponding element.Black is a good indicator of carbon presence.Blue or green shades are usually made of copper, cobalt, or chromium.There are yellow and blackish colors.There are two colors of orange and pink.Iron oxides create red, yellow, and brown shades.