Soft and Hard Bark
Name: L. J.
Date: Wednesday, April 02, 2003
Please tell me why some trees have softer bark while
some others have harder bark?
Answers to "why" questions about nature almost always have the same
answer: "because it works." Trees, like all other plants and animals, have
evolved for successful life and reproduction within their habitat. The
visible characteristics are a manifestation of genetic success - the
phenotype - and are a product of generations of evolution within an
environment. Why one characteristic, harder or softer bark for example,
developed is something we often cannot answer, it may be just an accident.
More specifically, though, harder and softer bark is sometimes
related to growth rates, faster growing trees (one possible route to
genetic success) are usually shorter lived and often have softer bark.
Slower growing trees often live longer and have harder bark and wood. The
relationships are complex and often very difficult to figure out.
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Update: June 2012