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Gasson, Peter E.

Photo of Peter Gasson
Job title: 

Wood Research Leader

Department: 
Natural Capital and Plant Health
Joined Kew: 

1979

Qualifications and appointments: 
  • BSc (Hons), Agricultural Botany, Univ. Reading, 1979
  • PhD, Botany (Timber Technology), Imperial College, 1985
  • DIC, Imperial College, 1985
  • Council, International Association of Wood Anatomists, IAWA (1994-99)
  • Hardwood Committee, IAWA (1988-89)
  • Softwood Committee, IAWA (1998-2004)
  • Instructor at PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa) wood anatomy workshops (2007, 2010)
Role: 

My research focuses on wood and timber in the context of systematics and conservation, often with collaborators worldwide. I specialise in the anatomy and identification of hardwoods and softwoods, especially Leguminosae, Malpighiales and CITES-listed species. All internationally traded timbers and wood products are covered by EU Timber Regulations. These include well known woods often with very broad geographical distributions such as oaks (Quercus), mahoganies (Swietenia, Khaya, Entandrophragma etc), rosewoods (Dalbergia) and ebonies (Diospyros), and these among others are the focus of my attention. I collaborate with colleagues at North Carolina State University on Inside Wood, an interactive wood identification database, and identify fragmentary plant material for user groups such as archaeologists, palaeontologists, antique dealers, customs and police. Some of my studies address specific problems of conservation, including sustainable utilization of fuelwoods in arid regions and urban development, such as the influence of urban trees on nearby buildings.

Selected publications: 

Whinder, F., Clarke, K. L., Warwick, N. W. M. & Gasson, P. E. (2013). Structural diversity of the wood of temperate species of Acacia s.s. (Leguminosae: Mimosoideae). Australian Journal of Botany 61: 291−301. Available online

Jansen, S., Lamy, J-B, Burlett, R., Cochard, H., Gasson, P. & Delzon, S. (2012). Plasmodesmatal pores in the torus of bordered pit membranes affect cavitation resistance of conifer xylem. Plant, Cell and Environment 35: 1109-1120. (CIF 5.145) Available online

Gasson, P. (2011). How precise can wood identification be? Wood anatomy’s role in support of the legal timber trade, especially CITES. IAWA Journal 32(2): 137-154. http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/22941932-90000049

Gasson, P., Baas, P. & Wheeler, E. (2011). Wood anatomy of CITES-listed tree species. IAWA Journal 32(2): 155-197. http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/22941932-90000050

Dias Leme, C. L., Cartwright, C. & Gasson, P. (2010). Anatomical changes to the wood of Mimosa ophthalmocentra and Mimosa tenuiflora when charred at different temperatures. IAWA Journal 31: 335-351. Available online