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Will a cedar tree survive if a portion of its bark is removed? I found someone had removed a strip (2'x5') from a tree on my property. I was told it was going to be made into a cedar hat. I am worried that the tree may not survive the winter.

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    Could you add a picture? It will really depend on how much of the circumference of the tree was stripped of bark.
    – michelle
    Commented Oct 17, 2015 at 19:44
  • unfortunately i can't. i'm ready to take off for a conference. the strip is 24 inches across the trunk and 72 inches taken from the bottom to the top. so it was taken from the north side of the tree. thanks michelle.
    – onevoi
    Commented Oct 17, 2015 at 20:02
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    What we are concerned about is the shape/position of the missing piece compared to the rest of the trunk. If, for example, a strip of bark is removed around the tree, the sap, water and nutritients can't flow up/down any more and the tree is bound to die. If flow of nutritients is only slightly inhibited, it depends on the wound - and if your tree can heal quickly or gets infected. Not much different than a badly scraped knee in humans. But for an estimation, we need pictures. You may edit your post any time, even after your conference. Welcome to the site.
    – Stephie
    Commented Oct 17, 2015 at 20:12

3 Answers 3

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The bark is one thing and the cambium is another. The bark protects the cambium. There are different layers of bark. Assuming he just removed the outer layers of bark there was probably no harm done. Do not try to cover this wound as the tree will do just fine protecting itself. The only part that Indians used was the fibrous outer layers to make clothing, building materials, etc. There are harder, finer layers of bark left to protect the vacular cambium. Even if he damaged the cambium on one side of the tree the tree will usually be able to cope just fine. Think about all the elk that rub the bark off, feral pigs that pull lots of bark away, beetles that bore beneath the bark and lay eggs and the larvae eat the cambium. If the cambium damage encircles the trunk, then the tree will die. Please send pictures!! Close ups of 'wound'...thanks!

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The tree should survive (of its own accord) in all scenarios but being girdled (meaning a ring of bark was removed completely around the tree bole) below all of its foliage.

Living tissues of trees, including the roots, are fed by the foliage. Photosynthates are transported downward in the inner bark or phloem. Water and mineral nutrients are transported upward through the wood or xylem. So, the roots survive as long as they are supplied with photosynthate.

On the other hand, if girdling removes the food supply for the roots, they will only survive by reconverting stored starches into metabolizable sugars. Once these are exhausted (in about two years), mineral nutrients will no longer loaded and water adsorption will effectively cease - the entire tree then dies.

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Sounds like your tree was harvested. This has been done for generations by the indigenous peoples. If done properly the tree will survive. As a matter of fact keeping the tree alive is a very important part of the tradition of cedar harvesting. Here is a youtube link for more info: https://youtu.be/A6KS4J8QyNQ

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