Vestures are defined as mostly branched or irregularly shaped protuberances on the inner surface of the secondary wall of wood including the surface of the wall lining the pit cavity. Based on a survey of literature, vestures in softwoods and hardwoods are discussed. Data on the chemical composition, ontogeny and possible functions are limited and partly contradictory. A preliminary list of dicotyledonous families is given in which vestures have been reported to occur. No general morphological classification of the different types of vestures (and 'warts') has been accepted at present. The taxonomic and diagnostic value of this polyphyletic character can be considerable but should be evaluated for each individual taxonomic group. It is not clear whether all types of vestures and warts are homologous; both structures remain poorly understood.