Like most people, I never paid much attention to bark. And then one day, while visiting the New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill in Boylston, MA, I noticed a tree with bark that looked like the armored plates of a dinosaur. And then another that was peeling translucent layers of yellow, orange, and red. And then the massive legs of a woolly mammoth. I was hooked. Bark is beautiful and the diversity is endlessly amazing. That unexpected revelation led to a life-long exploration of arboretums and botanical gardens.

As you will notice, this is not a reference book. There are over 60,000 species of trees in the world and in any case, my expertise ends with identifying white pines and sugar maples. All these images were selected solely for their aesthetics. You will find 44 photos of pines and zero oaks. I have nothing against oaks – oaks are wonderful trees, but their bark is uniformly dull.

The caption under each photograph contains the common name, the genus and species and the native range for that tree. I have tried to identify the trees as accurately as possible. I only photographed trees with “wizard” signs and/or dog tags at parks, arboretums, and botanical gardens. However, many of the signs/tags are decades old, and trees are reclassified to a new genus, species, and even family more often than you might imagine, especially since the advent of DNA analysis. Also, most trees have multiple common names in English, let alone in other languages. I have tried to use the most popular common name but, for example, Wikipedia lists eight common names for Acer saccharinum. In a few cases, trees from remote corners of other continents don’t have an English common name. Even worse, lots of details differs between the in situ signs/tags, Wikipedia, and other botanical sources. My admiration for those dedicated individuals that valiantly try to create order out of this chaos has grown immeasurably!

Powered by SmugMug Owner Log In