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In young stems of woody plants like trees and shrubs and some perennial vines, the bark is made up of these tissues arranged from the outside surface to the inside:
In old stems the epidermal layer, cortex, and primary phloem become separated from the inner tissues by thicker formations of cork. Due to the thickening cork layer these cells die because they do not receive water and nutrients. This dead layer is the rough corky bark that forms around tree trunks and other stems. In smaller stems and on typically non woody plants, sometimes a secondary covering forms called the periderm, which is made up of cork cambian, cork and phelloderm. It replaces the dermal layer and acts as a covering much like the corky bark, it too is made up of mostly dead tissue. The skin on the potato is a periderm.
Definitions of the term can vary. In another usage, bark consists of the dead and protective tissue found on the outside of a woody stem, and does not include the vascular tissue.
The vascular cambium is the only part of a woody stem where cell division occurs. It contains undifferentiated cells that divide rapidly to produce secondary xylem to the inside and secondary phloem to the outside.
Along with the xylem, the phloem is one of the two tissues inside a plant that are involved with fluid transport. The phloem transports organic molecules (particularly sugars) to wherever they are needed.
Cork, sometimes confused with bark in colloquial speech, is the outermost layer of a woody stem, derived from the cork cambium. It serves as protection against damage, parasites and diseases, as well as dehydration and extreme temperatures. Cork can contain antiseptics like tannins. Some cork is substantially thicker, providing further insulation and giving the bark a characteristic structure, in some cases thick enough to be harvestable as cork product without killing the tree.
The bark of some trees is edible.
Among the commercial products made from bark are cork, cinnamon, quinine (from the bark of Cinchona) and aspirin (from the bark of willow trees). The bark of some trees notably oak (Quercus robur) is a source of tannic acid, which is used in tanning. Bark chips generated as a by-product of lumber production, are often used in bark mulch in western North America. Bark is important to the horticultural industry since in shredded form it is used for plants that do not thrive in ordinary soil, such as epiphytes.
Cut logs used for the production of lumber or even log cabins generally have the bark removed, either just before cutting or for curing. Such logs and even trunks and branches found in their natural state of decay in forests, where the bark has fallen off, are said to be decorticated.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Bark". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|