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Bark : damage

Bark : damage

by Chris ~ 20 November, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Wind, fire and frost can seriously damage or kill trees.   Animals also wound them when they feed on bark tissues, and when they rub their bodies or antlers against tree trunks. Insects, like bark beetles can cause significant damage damage to woodlands and forests.

The extent of damage to trunks and the bark of trees varies considerably in relation to the nature of the ‘attack’.  If the damage to the bark is severe and the vascular cambium is exposed then neither new water nor sugar conducting tissue can be formed.  Damage to the (outer) cork cambium (phellogen) will limit the trees ability to form the outer tissues of the bark - which protect the tree.  If the damage is restricted to the outermost bark layer then this will render the tree more susceptible to further damage (be it from herbivores or temperature extremes). Read more...

Bark, its nature and uses.

Bark, its nature and uses.

by Chris ~ 6 November, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Bark is the term that is often applied to the outer covering of tree stems and other woody plants. It serves to protect a tree from 

  • Water loss
  • Insect attack
  • Infection by bacteria and fungi
  • Physical damage (by fire, animals, rock fall)

The nature of bark is immensely variable.  In some trees, the bark is extremely rough, corrugated and thick.  In others it is is thinner and appears to peel off in strips.   Redwoods are noted for having an extremely thick bark (see featured image above). Their bark is very fibrous and can be up to three feet thick. Read more...

veteran tree

Forests and woodlands – absorbing carbon dioxide?

by Lewis ~ 4 September, 2020 ~ one comment

Forests and woodlands are important in the global ecosystem; they have taken up some 20 to 30% of the carbon dioxide released from fossil fuels in recent times. It had been assumed that the dense and biodiverse tropical forest ecosystems (close to the equator) were particularly effective in soaking up this carbon dioxide’.   However, there is doubt that this will continue to be the case as forests shrink in size.  Plus, recent work at the University of Birmingham (Dr Tom Pugh) has shown that where forests were re-growing,  they took up large amounts of carbon partly because more carbon dioxide was available,  but also as a result of the younger age of the trees. This youthful carbon uptake was not associated with tropical areas, but with regenerating forests of more temperate regions. Read more...

A thorny problem

A thorny problem

by Lewis ~ 26 June, 2020 ~ 5 comments

When is a thorn a thorn, and not a spine or a prickle?  Generally, these terms are used casually and interchangeably.  Botanically speaking, they are all ‘spinose structures’ that is hard, rigid extensions or modifications of leaves, roots, or stems - all of which have sharp, stiff ends. They all have the same role - to deter animals from eating the plant that bears them. Spinescent is a term that describes plants that bear sharp structures that deter herbivory.  Thorns, spines and prickles are mechanical defences as opposed to chemical defences, such as tannins and phenolics, which create an unpleasant taste.

However, there are differences between these ‘structures’. Read more...

Bark beetles : the larger eight toothed bark beetle

Bark beetles : the larger eight toothed bark beetle

by Lewis ~ 25 June, 2019 ~ comments welcome

The woodlands’ blog has reported on outbreaks of bark beetles in the States and Canada but as of 16th January this year, measures were put in place to protect the UK from the larger eight toothed spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus). This beetle has been a problem on continental Europe for many years; it has been estimated that Germany lost some 30 million cubic metres of timber (between 1945 and 1949) to bark beetles. Spruce is a commercially important species, with perhaps some 800,000 hectares in the UK.  On the continent, the beetle has also been found living in pine, larch and douglas firThe beetle was found in Kent last December.  The special measures restrict the movement of spruce in a 50 km area around the outbreak.  Details of this area can be found here. Read more...

Tannins, tea and trees

Tannins, tea and trees

by Chris ~ 12 January, 2018 ~ comments welcome

We come across tannins in various foods and drinks.   They contribute to the taste of a cup of tea, a mug of coffee or a glass of wine.  Tannins contribute an astringent taste - a sensation of “dryness” in the mouth. Tannins are molecules made by plants - they are complex polyphenols built from several phenolic molecules.   A phenol is  made from a hexagon-shaped carbon ring with one or more hydroxyl groups (-OH) attached to it (see diagram).

They are generally water-soluble molecules and they can combine with proteins, cellulose, pectins etc.  Tannins are generally stored in the vacuole of plant cells (as are various oils, resins, crystals of calcium oxalate etc).  Collectively, these materials are sometimes referred to as ergastic substances. Read more...

A problem with mistletoe ?

A problem with mistletoe ?

by Lewis ~ 2 January, 2018 ~ one comment

When you look around this week, you might see suspended from the ceiling or a light fitment - a rather sad and shrivelled piece of mistletoe.  Mistletoe is well known for its connection to Christmas, in particular for the custom of “kissing underneath the mistletoe”.  The mistletoe has separate male and female plants; it is DIOECIOUS.  It follows that the male plants will not produce berries and they have no commercial value - as they do not yield berry-laden sprigs for Christmas decorations.  This use of mistletoe may be rooted in festive legends of 'fertility and life giving powers'. Read more...

Why trees don't grow tall in the same way as people ....

Why trees don’t grow tall in the same way as people ….

by Angus ~ 1 May, 2017 ~ one comment

When you look at a small person (also known as a baby) you know that they will grow bigger in every dimension.  Trees don't grow like that. A tree's branch will stay at the same height however tall the tree grows: by contrast a child's arm rises to a higher level as he or she grows taller.

The reason for this is that trees only grow in areas called meristems where they form new cells. Cells are created by cell division (mitosis) within the meristems, and these cells then expand and specialise.  These growth areas are found at the tops of the trees, and the tips of branches; these are "apical meristems".  Growth also happens in the apical meristems at the ends / tips of the tree's roots. Read more...

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