Tree Care Services of Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR

5 Reasons Bark Is Falling Off Of Your Trees

By AK Timber in Tree Care

When you think about bark on trees, you have to compare it to the skin on our faces. They do very similar things: protect what is inside, act as a covering, and tell many different stories. When you look at the skin on someone’s face, for example, you can tell a lot about the person and the life that they have lived. Even more importantly, you can tell a lot about how they feel. With a tree’s bark, you can do something similar in that you can tell if there might be something wrong with the tree or if it isn’t feeling its best.

While it might not look so good, peeling bark can actually help you to better understand your tree and get it the help that it needs before it is too late. So why are your trees peeling? Here are just a few common reasons why:

5. Thin bark

  • Common in some trees
  • Happens naturally in warmer climates
  • Can be a seasonal change

As humans age, our skin gets thinner and you can see the effects it has on our faces: wrinkles, cracks, and discoloration. If your tree has thin bark, it is more likely to peel than a tree that doesn’t have thin bark. Sometimes, it does so naturally when the time is right – like during the spring months or in the middle of fall.

When this topic was investigated by NYC Parks, they found that some shedding may have to do with the photosynthesis process – or the process in which plants obtain nutrients from sunlight. The cracks allow more sunlight to reach the delicate inner systems of the tree.

You can do a quick online search to see if your trees naturally peel or if it is something that you need to worry about.

4. Environmental Causes

  • Frost in the winter
  • Draught in the summer
  • Sun scalding at any time

Of course, environmental causes are another big reason for the bark of your tree to peel. Everything from an early frost to draught in the summer months can cause the bark of a tree to peel.

According to Gardening Know How, “Peeling tree bark is sometimes due to environmental factors. When peeling bark on trees is limited to the south or southwest side of the tree and bare wood is exposed, the problem may be sunscald [sic] or frost damage. This type of shedding affects the health and lifespan of the tree, and wider areas of exposed wood make it more likely that the tree will die.”

If a tree was already peeling and then it happens again – which happens quite frequently in the winter months when sun scalding is prominent – the process can be repeated and you will have several layers of peeling bark.

There are ways to prevent this, and it is something that tree owners need to look into – especially if you have sensitive or exotic trees.

3. Insect Infestation

  • Boring insects cause peeling everywhere
  • Ants cause peeling toward the bottom
  • Look around holes

Bark that starts peeling toward the bottom is often a sign that an ant infestation has caused the peeling – either because they introduced a fungus or a disease or because they are overwhelming the tree. Unfortunately, this peeling often makes the problem worse.

These holes invite more pests and more diseases, which can eventually disrupt the vascular system and slowly start to kill the tree. If you notice holes in your tree that have peeling bark, this is likely the reason why your tree doesn’t look so healthy.

Common insects can cause the problem too, like bees and ants so you need to be vigilant in checking. It isn’t unusual for this to happen on trees that were already sick or if the tree just recently got over an illness, according to Texas A&M.

2. The tree is exfoliating itself

  • Regular occurrence
  • Happens when the tree gets older
  • May occur in stages

Another reason that your tree may be peeling? Call it tree puberty. Trees exfoliate themselves just like we do with our skin, especially when there is something on the bark that the tree doesn’t like – such as weed killers and pesticides.

Per Home Guides, “A tree grows by forming a new layer of fibrous tissues deep within its core. As it grows from the inside, its outer layers expand, and it sheds its old bark to make way for the new. The bark on a young tree is generally smooth and flexible and can withstand the inner growth without much effect. Old bark, however, is dry and has lost much of its elasticity, causing it to crack and split as the tree grows.”

This is something that will vary by tree and location – sometimes sunlight can exasperate the situation. Some trees won’t have a problem at all and never have to exfoliate, even if they are the same type of tree. Note that the need to exfoliate can be brought on by disease, drought, or insect damage.

1. Tree is Dying

  • Extreme peeling
  • Happens after overlooked diseases
  • Extreme cases

If you have peeling that is all over the tree or just goes extremely deep, the unfortunate reality is that the worst may have happened: your tree is either about to die or has already died. For many trees, the peeling bark is a cry for help, according to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. If you catch it in time, you will be able to save the tree with professional intervention.

Whatever you do, do not overlook peeling skin on your trees. This will only cause whatever the underlying problem is to get worse or open your tree up to other issues. If you see quite a bit of bark peeling or falling off of your trees, it is time to do something.

At AK Timber Services, our main concern is that your trees are as healthy as possible, which means that we do have to do some investigation as to why your trees are peeling in the first place – and that can be extremely difficult and take some time. If you are worried about the health of your trees or fear the worst, it is highly important to give us a call as soon as you can. In many cases, there is no time to waste.

Give us a call today at (360) 635-1076  and our professionals will pay you a visit to investigate your trees and see how we can help you.

Header photo courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski  on Flickr!