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Bark - Beautiful and Beneficial

Date: 11 August 2008

Bark - Beautiful and Beneficial

The many uses of tree bark - both current and historical - will be explained during a tour at the Christchurch Botanical Gardens next Tuesday (19 August).

Gardens Collection Curator Dean Pendrigh will lead the tour, focussing on the ecology, flavours, medicinal, and Maori uses of bark.

"While some bark is renowned for its beauty, others protect the tree from environmental damage and predators, and many are used by people as cures and to flavour food," Mr Pendrigh says.

The tour will explore barks used to help relieve the symptoms of diseases such as malaria and scurvy, discomfort from haemorrhoids, burns and frost bite, and its benefits following injuries including sprains and back pain.

Mr Pendrigh says bark was also used widely by Maori and Pacific Island people to make torches for muttonbird hunters, tapa cloths, canoes, and as a dye of various shades.

Other barks either insulate trees from, or promote, fire, while some species have bark with toxic spines that deter grazing animals, or they secrete liquids that gum up the mouths of insects.

People also use barks to flavour food, with cinnamon one of the most common products.

To join Mr Pendrigh's tour, meet outside the Cuningham Conservatory in the gardens on Tuesday, 19 August at 12.10pm.


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