No tree grows at the same rate, has the same leaf pattern, or has identical bark.
However, each tree species has specific characteristics that you can use to help identify it if you can only see the bark.
The bark of birch trees always appear to be pulling or peeling off the tree as it ages.
Paper bark birch has outer white bark that peels off in horizontal sheets to reveal reddish-brown bark beneath.
In comparison, river birch has scaly bark mottled with brown, beige and orange that peels back.
Due to the papery thin bark of birch trees, they can easily be damaged by lawnmowers and other similar types of machinery.
Cherry trees are known for having shiny bark that is characterized by horizontal grayish-brown markings that are very distinct.
The paperback cherry has rich, shiny, reddish-brown bark that peels back.
However, what makes it unique is that when it peels back, it resembles satin ribbons.
In comparison, the bark of black cherry does not typically peel back, but instead, resembles burnt potato chips as it matures.
There are a few other well-known trees that have bark that peels away.
Mottled bark with large patches of gray brown that peels away to reveal creamy inner bark is associated with sycamore trees, which is one example.
If you think the tree might be sycamore, see if it is in a lowline area since sycamores are generally located where there is a water source.
Not all trees have bark that peels; some just look rough, are smooth, are deeply ridged, or flake (or break) off.
Kentucky coffeetree has rough looking dark brown, scaly bark.
At the other extreme is American beech. American beech is known for its smooth light gray to nearly silver bark.
When looking for a deeply ridged tree, don't go any farther than a Sassafras tree. Sassafras trees have reddish-brown, deeply ridged bark.
Flaking or breaking off of bark is common among a variety of trees.
Some of the trees that do this include black gum and honeylocust.
Black gum has dark grayish-brown bark that, with age, breaks up into a pattern of blocks.
Honeylocust bark is smooth but breaks up into curling, platy bark.
The bark of red, sugar, Norway, and silver maple sometimes flakes off.
As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:
* Dec. 26 -- Extension office closed, holiday,
* Jan. 2 -- Extension office closed, holiday,
* Jan. 5 -- 2012 Illiana Vegetable Growers' School, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., CST, Schererville, Ind. Cost is $20. To register, call 219-755-3240,
* Jan. 16 -- Extension office closed, holiday, and
* Jan. 17 -- Start of Master Marketer Program, Clay County 4-H Exhibit Hall, 7-9 p.m. Cost is $20. For more information, call 448-9041.