Cordaites principalis and Cordaites borassifolius, gymnosperm trees of the Carboniferous, are distinguished based on compression and cuticular morphology. A new distinction between them is suggested on the basis of differences in functional groups. Cuticular and compression spectra of C. borassifolius have lower CH2/CH3 ratios, suggesting more branched aliphatic chains in comparison with cuticles and compressions of C. principalis. Other differences are observed with Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) technique, but they vary from sample to sample of the two species to suggest other than chemotaxonomic-based sources of variations. ?? 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.