I’ve always been intrigued with textures, especially those found in nature.

Unique and interesting textures catch my eye. I’ve gone as far as taking really close-up photos of plants and animals when I’m outside or traveling. Then I create a collage of the various textures side by side. It is quite fascinating.

Textures are found everywhere in nature — it only takes a closer look. I’m hoping this column will inspire you to look closely at all of the unique and captivating textures there are to discover outside.

I wanted to discuss one particular source of texture that we see but overlook on a daily basis — tree bark. Did you know there are several different textures of tree bark? It may look the same from a distance, but that is far from the truth. Tree varieties have vastly different textures of bark, and for particular reasons.

Bark is the outer protection for a tree like our skin is for our bodies. Depending on the tree species, bark doesn’t necessarily look the same or respond the same to external conditions such as water, fire, pest and disease infestation, sun exposure, temperature, and human and animal interference, to name a few.

As I mentioned above, there are several basic types of bark, and as I list them, their names describe them rather well. They are papery bark, scaly bark, smooth bark, warty bark, shaggy bark, furrowed bark, plated bark and fibrous bark.

Most professionals and many amateurs who have an interest can actually narrow down the species options of a tree by closely examining the bark.

Although bark has so many uses, such as for medicine, crafts, a home for living organisms, and a source of food, fuel and chemicals, the focus I wanted to maintain was on the variety of textures. Many people will purchase particular tree species because of the texture of the bark, whether for aesthetic reasons or it accommodates a particular climate.

Let me list for you a few examples of trees in each of the bark types:

  • Papery: paper birch, beech, crape myrtle, sycamore, lacy bark elm
  • Scaly: many types of oaks, hickory, pines, black cherry
  • Smooth: holly, magnolia, yaupon, buckeye, red maple
  • Warty: hackberry
  • Shaggy: sugar maple
  • Furrowed: ginko, black walnut, honey locust, sweetgum, cottonwood
  • Plated: black birch
  • Fibrous: cedar, bald cypress

I think my favorite textures are those of the papery bark and the fibrous bark.

Darla Horner Menking is a certified Texas Master Gardener and Master Naturalist. Contact her at darla.menking@gmail.com.

Darla Horner Menking is a Texas Master Gardener and Master Naturalist. Contact her at darla.menking@gmail.com

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