Why trees shed bark

Find out why some trees go through a nat­u­ral ex­fo­li­a­tion process

How It Works - - CONTENTS -

One of the sim­plest rea­sons a tree may shed its bark is be­cause it grows from the in­side out. Bark con­sists of sev­eral lay­ers. The liv­ing in­ner tis­sue (the phloem) plays an im­por­tant role in trans­port­ing or­ganic mol­e­cules around the tree. The dead outer lay­ers (known col­lec­tively as the peri­d­erm) help in re­duc­ing wa­ter loss and pro­tect the wood from in­jury and dis­ease, sim­i­lar to the role of skin in hu­mans. This dead layer is un­able to ex­pand, there­fore as the in­ner wood grows, the outer layer of bark ex­pands and cracks to make room for the new bark un­derneath.

This process pro­vides the tree with a num­ber of eco­log­i­cal ad­van­tages; as old bark is lost, at­mo­spheric pol­lu­tants, par­a­sites and fungi are also re­moved, help­ing to keep the tree healthy. Sim­i­larly, climb­ing plants such as vines are not able to grow as high up the tree.

Trees that shed their bark seem to do so more after hot weather, as the outer bark dries and shrinks, al­low­ing it to peel away more eas­ily.

The shed­ding of a eu­ca­lyp­tus trees’ bark can be a fire haz­ard as it makes the per­fect tin­der

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