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Forensic work often involves the identification of small pieces of plant material other than wood, although in addition to safe ballast, wood splinters might come from such things as windows, doors and their frames, weapons and the like, and thus play an important part in police work. A wide range of particles of plants may become attached to clothing or footwear which re-late to the scene of a crime. Plant fragments found on suspects may link them with the location of the crime. Clothing itself is made from a variety of fibres, a number of which may be of plant origin. Microscope slides of macerated textile fibres make up part of the reference collection of forensic laboratories. Drug plants, such as Cannabis sativa, frequently have diagnostic characters whereby quite small pieces may be identified microscopically.
An increasing number of plant species are being sold for consumption as drugs – some as adulterants, others as substitutes. It is a hard task to keep up with the introduction of additional species, particularly because the prod-uct is often in a very finely powdered form. Quite a lot of time and effort has to go into analysing such finely powdered drugs. Anatomical characters can be used with such confidence for identification that they may contribute part of the evidence given under oath in court.
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