The Many Uses of Barks

The Many Uses of Barks


The term bark loosely refers to the outer covering of the stem and branches. Technically, it

includes all the tissues from outside the cambium to the outermost layers of a woody stem.

The bark serves as a protective tissue. It acts as a conduit transporting food to the other parts

of the tree. About 8% of the total volume of a tree in bark.


Bark consists of an outermost corky layer called epidermis, a layer of manufactured

food-conducting tissues called phloem, a zone between these two layers known as cortex. In

several species, a layer of fibrous strips called “bast fiber” forms an innerbark. Oils, resins,

tannins, waxes and phenolic substances may be present in the bark.


Cork, fiber, tannins, gums, resins, latex materials can all be derived from barks. The most

common yet the oldest and lowest grade uus of unprocessed bark is for fuel.


Following are some of the other uses of barks:

1. Bark rich in tannin – a substance used in:

a) tanning leather, preparation of binders and wood adhesives, drying fishnets, ropes, soils

and clothing.

b) insecticide

c) rust prevention

d) ink manufacture

e) medicines


The barks of kamatchili, some mangrove species like ‘bakawan-babae’, busaing, langaral,

pototan and ceriops tagal are the main sources of tanning materials.


2. Bast fiber – another portion of the bark found just under the outer bark – strong, tough and

durable and can be made into cloth, turinas, bowstrings, fish lines, sacks. Paper from

mulberry and salago have fine bast fibers which can be made into high grade quality paper

such as bank notes and checks.


Those of kalulot and other similar species are made into lady’s handbags, wallets and



Bast fibers of anonang, malabuho, and sinaligan yield silky and lustrous interlaced filaments

which are pliable and strong. These can be used in the manufacture of elegant hats,

handbags, placemats and wallets.


Anabo, anonang, ‘kulantingan’, ‘malubago’ and sinaligan have tough and durable bast fibers

with good folding endurance and bending sterngth. They can also be made into cordage and

wild bag trap.


3. Barks can also be potential sources of saponins – a lathe-producing substance which can

be used in the formulation of shampoo.


4. Barks which are crispy are good for making charcoal briquettes.


5. Barks contain phenolic constituents of the condensed types which can be utilized for

bonding upon addition of formaldehyde and proper application of heat and pressure.


This self-bonding characteristic of bark makes it a potential source of adhesive for plywood,

particleboard, hardboard and other similar products.


Barks of red lauan was used to test the potentials of fabricating boards from bark using its

own phenolic constituents as the bonding agent. A one-layer barkboard with smooth and

seemingly well bonded surface was produced using finer bark particles.


6. Barks shredded to resemble coarse hay can be used as soil conditioner, mulch or as

growing media for plants.


Seeds sown in seedbeds treated with decomposed Benguet pine bark was found to have a

germination period of 16 days only while those in untreated seedbeds took 20 to 23 days to

germinate. This was based on the study conducted by the Dept. of Environment and Natural

Resources (DENR).


7. Bark is also a good chelating agent. The tannin in bark could form chelates with heavy

metal cations and can help retain important minerals in the soil.


8. Bark can also form complexes with soil nitrogen compounds and prevent their rapid



9. Because bark improves drainage in certain soils, it has also been found to reduce root

know, damping off, and wilt.


PCARRD Monitor

Sept-Oct 1990

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