Last updated: April 26, 2019

What Does Bark Mean?

Bark is the outer protective layer of woody plants and roots, and is the main vascular system for trees and shrubs.

Bark is essential for transporting liquids in woody plants. While a herbaceous plant like an annual or perennial uses its entire stem as the main vascular system, trees and shrubs rely on their bark to carry nutrients to the leaves.


Maximum Yield Explains Bark

Each spring before new growth appears, new bark is grown as an outer protective layer and the vascular system for the tree.

Bark is valuable as a garden or landscape mulch when it is removed and shredded into thin chips because it adds organic matter to the soil. Bark is a byproduct of the logging industry when bark is stripped from a log during processing.

In some species of trees such as birch with a soft, pliable bark, long strips of bark may be removed as a covering for a human shelter. The bark should be removed in the spring when the new bark appears and slips off a tree much easier than the hardened bark of the previous year.

Care must be taken not to girdle or remove an entire strip of bark from the tree or it will cut off the nutrient supply of the vascular system and kill the tree. Girdling is sometimes performed by rangers as a form of forest management or it can occur naturally by the chewing of animals.


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