If you want to learn more about the tree’s outermost layer, you’re barking up the right tree. Tree bark is a pretty fascinating thing once you find out more about it! The bark of a tree is a lot like the skin of a person. It’s an outer protective layer that periodically sheds and is continuously renewed and growing. There are many different kinds of bark that trees have, from the chainmail-like plating of palm trees to the sanded smooth bark of a beech tree. All bark is essential to a tree’s life, and it’s not just a way to tastefully cover the ground of your backyard as home depot might have you believe.
The outermost layer of bark serves as the armor of the tree. It’s a protective covering that wards off the elements, extreme temperatures, any insects or critters looking for a taste of the tastier edible insides of a tree, and even some smaller fires. Much like our skin, outer layers of bark are technically dead, even though it’s so vital to the tree’s survival. This is the reason for the intriguing patterns on most tree’s bark. The outer layer starts cracking when a tree expands because it isn’t alive and can’t keep growing. It eventually sloughs off usually while serving in its protective capacity.
The inner layer of the bark is much more active. For one, it’s still alive. The Phloem, or inner layer of bark, is used to transport food throughout the tree. It takes the food made by leaves during photosynthesis and helps spread it out around the entire organism through vertical tubes traveling the length of the tree. This layer solidifies and dies over time and eventually becomes outer bark after enough of the outer layer sloughs off and leaves the tree.
The bark is an integral part of any tree that helps protect it and keep it healthy. Without bark, trees would be susceptible to all kinds of dangers.