Trees and their Bark, food for thought. Dr Dawn Gould

When walking in your own garden or in a place where there are many different trees to be seen one becomes aware, depending on the time of the year, their skeletal winter look, their delicate spring beauty or in the full flush of summer.  But how many walkers after enjoying this pleasure take a look at the bark of the trees?  If one runs one’s hands over the bark the touch will be either smooth, rough, knobbly and even patterned including different shades of colour. 

Guava Tree

Having perhaps looked at the bark the next thought might well be what is its purpose?  It is a form of skin which covers the tree as protection. The outer part of the bark has been used over the years in various ways.  Around the world baskets and containers were made from the bark turned into cork.  Going back a long time in years canoes were made from cork from certain trees with no harm to the outer bark.  Caps, belts, blankets were also made from the cork harvested from bark. These articles were probably only available to those who had the money to pay for the articles due to the time taken to turn the bark into a suitable material. A further usage was that bark/cork was also used for the stoppers in wine bottles. 

Eucalyptus Tree

In the South African province of Kwa-Zulu Natal the bark of the Pepper Bark tree, Warburgia salutaris, has been used for medicinal purposes such as treating malaria, stomach ulcers. Unfortunately the trees in the wild have become endangered possibly from having been over harvested.  It has been noted that recently tree guards have been engaged to guard the trees.

One of the most well known and expensive of bark is cinnamon.  This spice comes from the inner layer of bark from various ever green trees belonging to the genus cinnamomum. Most of the  cinnamon used in the world comes from Sri Lanka.

When out walking in the future look carefully at the bark of trees and think of its various forms of usage.