Nathalie Passedat testimony

Portrait of Nathalie Passedat, wood anatomy expert at the Pôle Industrie Bois et Construction.

Nathalie Passedat
Experte en anatomie des bois

Nathalie Passedat

Within the Tests & Simulations team of FCBA Bordeaux, one of my missions, for the past 20 years, has been to identify the species on various wood products. In the current environmental context, there is more and more interest in wood and it is important to know the species used to ensure the quality of the product put on the market and also to fight against illegal wood.

My expertise work is aimed at a wide audience (traders, experts, companies in the wood industry, private individuals, etc.) and aims to authenticate/verify the species of wood used, purchased or involved in a dispute over a work. This work can also consist of assisting companies in the choice of species to be used.

This job is a passion because it involves observing and investigating a piece of wood, whatever its shape, and identifying the botanical family, the genus or even the species of wood, and the cases of study are extremely varied. Always ready to take up challenges, with very small samples of wood, degraded, treated, of unknown geographical origin…, my job requires meticulousness and pugnacity. The methods used are “ancestral” and based on the macroscopic and microscopic examination of the cellular organization of the woody plane of the sample according to the three directions of observation (transversal, tangential and radial). The anatomical study is carried out by comparison with reference slides, bibliographic data and computerised databases, and by counting and measuring cellular elements if necessary, leading to the drafting of an expert report.


My job is timeless, the identification of wood is a subject of yesterday, today and tomorrow and I have the chance to contribute to this memory of wood by participating in the setting up of a xylotheque at the FCBA in Bordeaux. This collection of wood samples is associated with a technical analysis platform equipped with microscopes and macroscopic photographic equipment. It should be noted that the constitution of this xylotheque began at the CTBA (Paris) with 1,500 samples. Today it has been enriched with 16,000 new samples from all continents, which will soon be available to our professionals.

I also like to pass on my knowledge by offering tailor-made training courses, by running webinars, by giving demonstrations at trade fairs and by taking part in exhibitions such as the Woodrise festival for professionals and the general public.

Innovation is also on the agenda, since 2017 I have been lucky enough to be involved in a Wood Species Eye research project aimed at providing professionals with a tool that allows them to do their own petrol checks in the field without being an ‘expert’. This tool is based on the use of a macro lens on a smartphone and a downloadable Xylorix inspector application.

The essence identification of this application is based on the use of artificial intelligence (neural network). Nine species verification models have been developed and will be offered for subscription in the first quarter of 2022. The objective of this project is to continue to develop new models over the coming years and to study machine vision tools for different wood applications, where it is necessary to characterise or control a wood product.