DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Peeling bark of a River Red Gum tree (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), in Victoria, Australia, in December. The bark of the previous year's growth (shades of red and grey) is peeling away from the underlying new bark (off-white) in randomly shaped flakes. Eucalyptus species can be crudely classified according to the behaviour of their bark. Those which have smooth bark that is shed in flakes, ribbons or strips ("decorticating bark") are known as gum trees. Those which have persistent bark are known as ironbarks or stringybarks; in these groups, the bark may develop considerable thickness, and eventually split. The shedding of bark produces an inflammable litter beneath the tree, which contributes to a rapid burn of wildfires, a possible benefit to the tree itself.
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