Outer bark variation

Monique Reed monique at bio.tamu.edu
Tue Oct 21 16:12:43 EST 1997


A walk in the local woods gives:

Crataegus, Vaccinium--thin, smooth, exfoliating
Quercus marilandica, stellata--thick, blocky, dark
Quercus phellos, nigra--much smoother, with horizontal lines of lichen
Platanus--smooth, exfoliating
Juniperus--thin, platy, resinous
Carya--thickish, furrowed
Celtis--pink, warty
Betula nigra--exfoliating in plates
Ulmus--medium thick, medium rough
Gleditsia--smooth between the enormous thorns
Prunus--smooth
Diospyros--dark, blocky

All of these within a couple hundred yards of one another.  There doesn't seem 
to be any correlation with size of the plant, exposure, soil type, etc.  True, 
some thicker bark may provide some fire protection and some whiter bark may 
cut down on sun-scald in winter, but my gut feeling is that mostly, bark 
variation is provided so that botanists doing winter ID don't shoot themselves 
before spring.

M. Reed, who misses smooth maples for climbing



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