The Ecology of Bark

Whether it’s the dead of winter or the hottest day in summer, trees remain as a focal point for most landscapes. Trees, with their large canopies and big trucks, act as the main backdrop for most of our adventures. Although tree leaves tend to get the most attention, tree trunks and bark seem to get undervalued. However, bark can be just as interesting. Just like leaves, bark is unique to the tree’s species and age. Trees faced with drought, temperature changes, and interactions with specific organisms tend to show signs through their bark. Check out this list of characteristics and factors that make bark one of the most interesting parts of a tree:

Bark Structure

To understand exactly how bark evolves, first you must understand the anatomy of a tree trunk. A trunk is comprised of multiple layers. The term “bark” actually doesn’t refer to the outer surface of trunks, but instead it means the entire shell of a tree that can be detached from the wood. That means “bark” includes everything from a tree’s trunk except a thin layer called the vascular cambium. As a tree grows, this inner layers starts to push out the bark, leaving it no choice but to adapt or fall off. Depending on the species of tree, the bark may react differently. Some species keep their outer layers while other species start to shed their bark. From an outside appearance, the tree’s bark looks different depending upon its overlapping layers, its type of connective tissue, and how the bark breaks as the tree grows.

Bark Defenses

Possibly the most interesting part about tree bark is its ability to protect the tree from outside forces. Just like walls of a house, bark is able to regulate the tree’s temperature. In addition, like skin, bark helps protect from intruders and outside forces coming in. However, if a tree has bark that has begun cracking, it allows for intrudes such as fungi, bacteria, and insects to come in. Depending on its species, different trees develop preventative measures to stop this from happening including chemical and structural defenses. Some trees create a smell, acidic nature, or change their color to help deter insects. These defensive tactic are extremely valuable to the livelihood of the tree itself.

Curious as to how your favorite tree protects itself? Learn more about bark and its evolution by calling Grandiflora Services!


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