More pictures from one of my recent woodland treks. There’s always something to look at with tree bark and trees in general. A lot of trees have bark I think of as a little more generic, even if only deceptively so — gray, regular ridges and furrows, softly undulating or in diamond patterns. The kind that is difficult or impossible to use reliably to identify a tree, at least without a few other traits. (There’s probably a tree-IDing wonder kid who can do it, but it’s not me.) However, even among the most same-seeming, boring, underwhelming species, there’s still a lot that happens in a tree’s lifetime that leaves its mark on the tree and creates something visually appealing, at least for me.
There’s the aging process itself. There’s the gulf between young bark that tends to be smoother and brighter and older bark that tends to be grizzled, thick, and scarred. Interactions with birds and insects leave holes and galleries. Fungal and bacterial diseases leave wounds, galls, bacterial wetwood. Dead trees rot and fall apart in different ways and become host for saprophytes, fungi and bacteria that feed on dead or decaying matter, the signs of which are sometimes quite stunning. Other things I like to look at in the surface of bark include lenticels, leaf and bud scale scars, and growths of lichen and moss.
Then there are trees that are just kind of a picture in themselves, that have bark that is unusual or vibrant in some way. Like river birches (young shredding paperlike bark in many fleshy tones), plane trees (camouflage-like patterns), shagbark hickory (long shredded strips of bark that peel lengthwise from the tree), hornbeam (limbs that look muscled almost like a humans’), scotch pine (flakey, bright orange bark high up on tree), paperbark cherry (deep reddish-orange, metallic bark). None of the trees below have bark as immediately striking, but they’ve got other things going on for them.