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Name: L. J.
Status: educator
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
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.

J. Elliott

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