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Beauty of bark in winter

Farmstead Forest: Unique tree bark types add interest to the farmyard landscape.

Curt Arens

December 27, 2022

8 Slides
White spruce bark

Just as you can identify cattle breeds by hide color and characteristics, the same is true with trees. In the winter, when broadleaf trees are barren of leaves, it is even easier to distinguish between different species by the type of bark on the trunk.

While bark serves an important purpose in the life of the tree, providing a form of protection from the outside world, it continually renews from within. It helps keep out moisture in the rain and prevents the tree from losing moisture when the air is dry. It also insulates against the cold and heat, and wards off insect pests.

Trees often start their lives with smooth bark, but as time goes by and the tree ages, its bark often develops deep ridges, wrinkles and furrows.

Many trees have interesting bark types that add uniqueness to the winter landscape around the farm. Ranging from the smooth bark of aspen trees to the deeply ridged bark on eastern cottonwood, each tree has a unique texture, color and type when it comes to the bark covering.

Click through our sample gallery of trees to view their distinct bark characteristics. Learn more at

About the Author(s)

Curt Arens

Editor, Nebraska Farmer

Curt Arens began writing about Nebraska’s farm families when he was in high school. Before joining Farm Progress as a field editor in April 2010, he had worked as a freelance farm writer for 27 years, first for newspapers and then for farm magazines, including Nebraska Farmer.

His real full-time career, however, during that same period was farming his family’s fourth generation land in northeast Nebraska. He also operated his Christmas tree farm and grew black oil sunflowers for wild birdseed. Curt continues to raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf herd.

Curt and his wife Donna have four children, Lauren, Taylor, Zachary and Benjamin. They are active in their church and St. Rose School in Crofton, where Donna teaches and their children attend classes.

Previously, the 1986 University of Nebraska animal science graduate wrote a weekly rural life column, developed a farm radio program and wrote books about farm direct marketing and farmers markets. He received media honors from the Nebraska Forest Service, Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Nebraska Experimental Farm Association.

He wrote about the spiritual side of farming in his 2008 book, “Down to Earth: Celebrating a Blessed Life on the Land,” garnering a Catholic Press Association award.

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