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back to project tree project treebark rubbing

Bark is the vitally important skin of the tree, protecting its insides from drying out or being damaged by fungi, insects or animals. It also protects the tree from extremes of heat and cold.

Like animal skin bark is made up of several layers (the outer layer that we see is actually called ‘cork’), and each layer has an important job to do. The thickness of the bark layer varies enormously; in some trees the bark layer can be almost paper thin, whereas in the giant redwood trees of California it can be up to two feet thick.

Each type (or species) of tree has a different pattern and texture to its bark, so by looking carefully at the bark you can often identify the tree.

If you take the bark off a tree it will do damage to the tree itself which may then die. However you can make and keep an accurate record of the bark by making a bark rubbing, examples of which you can see at the bottom of this page.

bark

Flick through these pictures of different trees to see the range of different barks you can find. These are all commonly found types of tree, and there will be lots of trees with interesting bark textures in gardens, parks or roadsides in your neighbourhood, once you start to look for them.

To make a bark rubbing you will need the following:

  1. 1. a tree (with an interesting texture)
  2. 2. a piece of white or light coloured paper
  3. 3. a thick pencil, charcoal, or wax crayons


Method

Hold the paper carefully against the tree and rub your crayon or pencil over the paper, applying gentle pressure until the texture shows through.

English Oak

Silver Birch

Scots Pine

Beech

Larch

Now you've tried it yourself, see if you can match the different barks above with the bark rubbings below. Hover over the pictures to see if you're right.

Scots Pine

Beech

Larch

Silver Birch

English Oak

Other ideas to try
  • Once you're happy with your technique, try using different colours, or using several colours on the same rubbing.
  • Make a scrapbook of your best bark rubbings, perhaps including a photo or drawings of the tree each one came from.
  • Scan one of your bark rubbings and use it as your desktop wallpaper.
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