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The formation of twinned dendrites (feathery grains) in binary Al-Zn, Al-Mg, Al-Cu and Al-Ni alloys has been studied in specimens directionally solidified under identical thermal conditions, i.e. G approximate to 100 K cm(-1), v approximate to 1 mm s(-1), and with slight natural convection in the melt. The influence of the solute element nature and content has been found to be of less importance than previously reported since feathery grains were formed in all four alloys, regardless whether the alloying elements are hexagonal close packed (Zn and Mg) or face-centered cubic with a high (Ni) or low (Cu) stacking fault energy. A detailed analysis confirmed that twinned dendrites grow along (110) directions in all four cases, with a complex branch morphology made of up to six to nine arms. Surprisingly, at high Zn or Mg compositions for which regular dendrites grow along < 110 > instead of < 100 >, [Gonzales F, Rappaz M. Metall Trans A 2006; 37: 2797. [1]] no twinned dendrites could be formed. In terms of both the growth kinetics advantage of twinned dendrites over regular ones and the associated tip shape, some experimental evidence seems to contradict the doublon conjecture suggested by Henry [Henry S. PhD thesis, Ecole Polytechnique Federal de Lausanne, 1999. [21]], at least for the solute compositions studied in the present work. (C) 2008 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.