Chelator-mediated Fenton chemistry is capable of reducing non-stochiometric amounts of iron via hydroquinone oxidation. These types of reactions have previously been demonstrated to be promoted by some lignocellulose degrading fungi in generating hydroxyl radicals to permit lignified plant cell wall deconstruction. Here we demonstrate that lignocellulose surfaces, when exposed by chemical treatment or fragmentation, can promote a similar multi-oxidative mechanism in the presence of iron. Iron reduction by lignin surfaces permits the generation of hydroxyl radicals in the cell wall to help explain fungal non-enzymatic cell wall deconstruction, and it also provides an explanation for certain phenomenon such as the anthropogenic generation of formaldehyde by wood. The mechanism also provides a basis for the generation of electrons by lignin that are required by certain fungal redox enzymes active in plant cell wall degrading systems. Overall, the data demonstrate that iron found naturally in lignocellulose materials will promote the oxidation of phenolic lignin compounds in the naturally low pH environments occurring within lignified plant cell walls, and that this activity is promoted by cell wall fragmentation.