“His bark is worse that his bite,” is an aphorism that may be true of men, questionable about dogs but never about trees. It is urgent to insert [here] a disclaimer regarding this author’s lack of objectivity regarding his views on canine behavior. That is why the focus of this piece will be solely on trees and more specifically, their coverings.
It is not only humans whose outer layer changes with the seasons. Trees too, sometimes exhibit this tendency. Weather is generally to blame, especially variations in temperature and moisture. Shedding and peeling are two popular tendencies trees manifest. Bark functions on trees much like skin does on humans. It can act as a host to other free riders such as lichens, moss, small symbiotic plants, fungi and insects both friendly and harmful. It protects from invasion, infection, insulates and plays a very specialized role in the survival of its species. But beyond the myriad of science facts and functions, bark is nature’s mother lode of living textures.
From the smooth white, slightly speckled, paper-like birches to the incredibly thick, deeply creviced, mountainous topography of the giant redwoods and sequoias, bark offers variety.
Next time you see a tree, look closely at the trunk, more specifically, its bark. It is a marvel in itself.