Tree bark - problems, protection use

Tree bark - problems, protection use

Trees and their bark

Trees serve as privacy screens or fruit suppliers in the garden. Usually the bark is not a selection criterion. But many trees are characterized by an aesthetic bark that sets visual accents in every season. Not only the structure of this natural protective cover varies from smooth to silky to rough and wrinkled. The color can also take on all nuances from red to brown to green.

also read

  • The apple tree loses its bark - identify and combat problems
  • Douglas fir - the typical features of its bark
  • Larch - how the years change the appearance of the bark
speciesColorationsVariety of patterns
mapleStriped maple, coral bark maple, rustbeard maple, snake skin maplecoral red, orange, golden yellow, olive greenChocolate chips, cinnamon rolls, snake skin
birchBlack birch, Himalayan birch, silver birch, downy birchsnow-white, yellow-white, reddish, black-brownThe bark comes off in broad strips
beechBlood beech, stone beech, weeping beech, Süntel beechdark green, black, silver graypitted, cracked, smooth
OakSwamp oak, downy oak, oakreddish, gray, greenishfield, furrowed, scaly
jawScots pine, black pinered-brown, gray-brown, darkscaly, furrowed
AshCommon ashlight green, gray, blacksmooth, cracked, ribbed

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Different trees have so different barks, that fascinates me again and again #baum #trees #rinde #baumrinde #surface #texture #treebark #bark #herbst #baumaufinstagram #volksgartenletmathe #bäumeimherbst #treesoninstagram

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Functions of the bark

The outer layers, which are collectively referred to as bark, are called bast and bark. The bast is used to transport sugar compounds through the tree, while the bark has a protective function. It is the natural barrier against environmental influences such as frost and fire. Extreme temperatures are buffered by air inclusions in the bark. Since the bark cells have died, they hardly need any energy.

Functions of the bark:

  • Protective wall
  • Growth zone
  • Information center
  • Communication organ


Trunk structure

An important difference between woody and herbaceous plants is the trunk of a tree, which cannot only grow upwards. It gets thicker over the years. The cambium is responsible for this so-called growth in thickness. It forms bast cells that grow outward. In addition, this layer produces wood cells inwards. It is only a few cells thick and cannot renew itself even if damaged. Inside is the pith, which is surrounded by heartwood and sapwood.

Determine tree bark

Recognizing trees by their bark takes a lot of practice. Species like birch, plane tree or beech have an unmistakable bark. Other species are very similar in color and structure, so that other identifying features often have to be used. Growth form and habitat play a major role in identification. You can also look at dried up foliage directly under the tree, as this provides clear information about the species.

Protect and repair bark

If the bark has been damaged, the tree needs to quickly close those wounds. The cambium also takes on this task. It forms the so-called wound wood, which slides over the wound and closes it. Since this process takes several months to years, the tree has to resort to an initial remedy.

Emergency measure

In some trees, resin escapes from the wound, which closes it. Other species seal off the wood pores from the outside so that no fungi or pathogens can penetrate. If the cambium is injured, it is no longer formed anew. At this point the sap lines are interrupted and the tree has to compensate for this loss. It is therefore all the more important that the bark of a tree is protected and not damaged.

Anyone peeling off the bark of a living tree damages it.

Why the bark rips open

Cracks in trees are due to different causes. Not only mechanical damage but also infestation by insects and fungi cause cracks to form. Damage to the cherry tree bark is often caused by strong temperature fluctuations between day and night. During the night, the north side of the trunk cools down faster than the south side of the trunk, which is still heated up from the day. The bark surface tears open due to the resulting tension.

Cure bark

The tree will close large cracks in bark over the years by growing over it. The most important measure is good care. Make sure that the tree is optimally supplied with water and nutrients. Active measures to close the wound always turn out to be negative.

You should avoid:

  • Wound closures ensure a fungus-friendly environment
  • Cutting off the edge of the wound leads to a loss of vitality
  • Covering with black foil worsens the microclimate

Problems with the bark

tree bark

If the bark cracks open and falls off, don't worry. However, larger injuries should be researched. Cracks can be caused by environmental influences or by mechanical means.

Damage to fibrous bark

Squirrels occasionally collect fibrous flaking bark from certain conifers in order to use them as cushioning material. They pull the fibers of the bark from living trees and work flat and vertically oriented. The processed areas are mostly in the lower trunk area. Here the bark appears fibrous-rough to bristly.

Affected trees are exotic:

  • Giant sequoia
  • Japanese crescent fir
  • Giant tree of life
  • Chinese redwood
  • Bald cypress

Tree bark eaten off, injured or damaged

Young trees are more often affected by bark damage than old trees. However, age is not a complete exclusion criterion, as trees in the forest are more often eaten by wild animals or damaged in other ways. If the damage is only sporadic and the trunk has not been debarked all around, you can disinfect the wound with nettle manure. Provide the tree with water and nutrients so that it can regenerate itself.

Bark completely peeled off

Fallow deer prefer to eat young fruit trees and sometimes eat the entire bark of the lower trunk area. In the event of severe damage, the conduction pathways are severed and the tree can no longer supply itself with nutrients. If there are some ducts, you can seal the open areas with clay. If the ducts are completely destroyed, you can try to create juice paths.

Creating a juice bridge as an emergency rescue:

  1. Cut off a sufficiently strong branch
  2. bevel on both sides
  3. Slide it under the bark of the trunk above and below the curl
  4. unwind with raffia

Common diseases

There are some diseases that lead to cortical injuries in the early or later stages. The symptoms are disease-specific. Groove-shaped cracks can appear that go deep into the wood. Cracked sores in the bark can be accompanied by scab formation. The diseases cause other typical symptoms such as discoloration of the wood or changes in the crown area.

  • Bark blight : Stone fruit is affected in permanently damp weather
  • Bark scab : attacks rose plants damaged by drought and stress
  • Soot bark disease : occurs in maple trees that are stressed by drought
tree bark

Treat fungal infestation

What is almost normal in old trees can also occur in young trees: flaked bark from fungi. While in white rot the wood appears fibrous and covered by a white-gray veil, in brown rot there is dark brown to black discoloration. The wood under the bark crumbles into cubes. 30 different types of fungus are responsible for these symptoms. They settle in open wounds that have a humid microclimate.

First aid:

  • cut out small wounds into healthy wood
  • Disinfect with nettle liquid
  • Providing the tree with water and nutrients


There are some beetles that can settle under the bark and create impressive duct systems. However, not all species living under the bark are dangerous to the tree. The type of corridors can give an indication of the particular species that live in the wood.

Bark beetleFeeding tunnels between bark and wood with a typical central aisleYes
Jewel beetleZig-zag feeding tunnels between the bark and woodNo
antDuct systems and chambers in dead heartwoodNo

Use and process bark

Do not remove the bark without a reasonable reason so as not to add undue stress to the tree. Tree bark is ideal for handicrafts and processing. To do this, collect bark from dead branches that you find in the forest. You can peel the trunk with a draw knife or scratch squares into the bark with a knife and then peel them off.


Make durable

The best way to preserve bark is to dry it thoroughly. When the pieces are heated, no microorganisms survive. No mold builds up on dry wood, so further treatment with wood preservatives is unnecessary. Always keep an eye on the material as it dries in the oven to avoid possible charring.

How to proceed:

  1. Place the wood on a baking tray covered with baking paper
  2. Bake at 100 degrees for 30 minutes
  3. Then let it cool down


Alternatively, you can let the pieces of bark dry in the sauna or microwave. Bark also dries well with the hairdryer or on the heater.

DIY ideas

If you don't want to buy decoration, you can collect tree bark and use it for handicrafts and decorating in a variety of ways. Pieces of bark are grateful objects because they don't require elaborate preparation. They can be used to make arrangements or natural flower bowls. You can also use the pieces of bark to embellish furnishings.

Plant bark

tree bark

Large pieces of bark that you can find in the forest after cutting trees are ideal objects for planting. Choose species that grow in gravel and sandy soil and have low water needs. This prevents the bark from getting too moist and lasts longer. Succulents or tillandsias feel particularly comfortable in the bark bowl.

The mini garden:

  • Substrate : mixture of gravel, crushed stone and sand
  • Plants : houseleek, Jupiter's beard, stonecrop
  • Decoration : bizarre stones, mini tin watering can


Glue blown eggs and moss to the tree bark and convert the eggs into a mini flower vase. This gives you an individual Easter decoration.

Summer decoration: bark pot

The texture of the tree bark creates a natural atmosphere that goes perfectly with indoor plants, kitchen herbs or small shrubs. With just a few resources, you can make a summer flower pot out of bark. Birch bark is suitable and provides color contrasts.

That's how it's done:

  • Place the bark around the desired flower pot
  • Cut the bark to size and coat with hot glue
  • Press on the pot and fix with clothespins

Autumn decoration: arrangement

A large piece of bark provides the basis for a rustic table decoration. Collect moss, leaves, acorns and rose hips to decorate. Place pillar candles on the tray and distribute the natural materials on it. Tree mushrooms round off the arrangement. These can be easily dried and will last forever.

Christmas decoration: Christmas tree

For the Christmas tree you need several pieces of bark of different sizes. Poke a hole in the center of each piece of bark. As they decrease in size, these are placed on a kebab skewer so that a fir tree-shaped shape is created. To make the tree stand, the kebab skewer is inserted into a tree slice. You can crown your fir tree with a birch bark star that you cut yourself.

More natural decorations for Christmas:

  • Christmas tree decorations made from star-shaped pieces of bark
  • Advent arrangements with red candles, fir branches and bark figures
  • wooden heart covered with moss

frequently asked Questions

Why does the bark peel off trees?

The fact that trees shed their bark has nothing to do with drought. Often after a rainy spring there is a growth spurt and the trees free themselves from the bark. The bark consists of dead cells that are renewed by the bast. The bark grows with the tree as it thickens. The bark opens up because the tension is too great. This bark shedding is particularly noticeable in plane trees.

Should I remove any growth on the bark?

On the side of the trunk facing the weather, there is often a growth of lichens and mosses. However, such natural layers do not damage the tree. They provide additional protection against the weather and should therefore not be removed. Removing lichens and mosses with a brush will damage the bark and allow fungus to enter the wounds.

Why do green mushrooms grow on the bark?

Excessive lichen growth on individual branches indicates that these are slowly dying off. There are different types of lichen, the color of which can vary from yellow to orange to green and gray. Common yellow lichen often occurs on tree bark and is known as a yellow or green fungus because of its color. Instead of removing the growth, you should cut off the affected branches at the base. This allows the tree to invest its energy in developing fresh branches.

Can you eat tree bark?

Tree bark itself is not edible because it is neither easy to digest nor rich in nutrients. Bread with added bark has a long tradition in Northern Europe. To counteract famine, the flour was stretched with ground pine bark. Today the bark bread is a luxury good. For production, the white bast layer is scraped off, dried and ground. Edible bark spaghetti is made in a similar way.

Products with tree bark:

  • Tea made from the bark of the lapacho tree
  • Cinnamon as a spice made from tree bark