Healthy or Harmful? When Trees Shed Bark

Tree health experts share a bit about why your tree may be shedding its bark and what to do about it.

Shedding Bark May Be a Warning Sign of Pests and Disease, or Not

It doesn’t take an arborist to notice when bark is falling off a tree. What may be harder to determine is whether or not it is bad for the tree. Weather stressors, diseases, fungal growth, and insect infestations can all result in a tree losing patches of bark. It can also be a sign of growth. This article will help you distinguish between healthy shedding of bark and when it is an indicator of a bigger problem. 

Healthy Bark Shed: Exfoliating Isn’t Just for Skin

Exfoliation, or healthy shedding of bark, happens on a cyclical basis to several different tree families. Trees such as birches shed their bark nearly constantly in paper-like strips. Other types of trees grow and their tough bark splits, the outer layer falling off like a snake skin, leaving a fresh layer of bark underneath. Trees that tend to shed bark on a regular basis include sycamore, hickory, silver maple, and pine trees. If your tree is not one of these, is shedding bark, but overall seems healthy it is likely responding to some form of weather stress.

Environmental Factors: Sun, Heat, and Cold

Extreme temperatures can cause damage to tree bark. If this is caught early, trees can typically recover and heal from this sort of damage. Keeping a tree’s roots moist and the soil healthy with watering and organic mulch can help a tree through recovery. The damage that can be caused usually comes from too much heat, too much cold, or too much sun.

  • Frost Crack: When the temperature drops suddenly, an exposed tree’s bark can crack and fall off revealing the inner wood. This can cause long vertical cracks to form in this underlayer. Since this is how nutrients get to the tree’s branches, this can be a problem for overall tree health.
  • Extreme Heat: Frost crack is perhaps a misnomer because exactly the same thing can happen in the extreme summer heat. 
  • Sunscald: This tends to happen in late winter and early spring as the angle of the sun changes and the temperature rises. The sun tricks the tree out of its dormant state and the new growth is then killed or damaged by colder temperatures. The trunk that has sunscald will look blotchy and it will typically appear on the south or southwest side of the trunk.

If your tree is exhibiting any of these issues, you should consult with a tree service company about your tree health care. While none of these problems may destroy the tree by themselves, they may make the tree more susceptible to pests and disease.

Pests and Tree Disease

Tree service is about more than just tree trimming and tree removal. Arborists care about keeping trees alive and thriving. They look for loss of bark as an indicator of infections or infestations. If bark is coming off the tree and fungus is evident underneath, there is definitely a need for tree care. This could be Hypoxylon Canker and the tree would need to be removed because there is no cure for it. 

Other diseases, such as anthracnose, affect many trees, but may be cured if caught early. Sometimes insects attack the leaves or bark, burrowing underneath to lay eggs and such.

Some of these pests include the following:

  • Aphids
  • Western Oak Bark Beetle
  • Sycamore borer
  • Bag Worms
  • Gypsy Moths
  • Elm Bark Beetle 

About Ned Patchett Tree Care & Consulting

 Ned Patchett Tree Care & Consulting serves the arboricultural needs of the people ofSan Carlos, CA and the surrounding communities. We do everything from tree pruning and tree health care to tree risk assessment and removal. Call us today for a quote.

By |2022-11-18T15:52:51+00:00November 15th, 2022|Tree Health|