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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Not ribbon candy!

This is a little out of order, but I didn't have a chance to share this picture last week.  Do you recognize this shrub?  

I wish we had manzanita growing on Bodega Head.  This picture was taken in Yosemite.  

The red and copper-colored bark is so appealing [a-peel-ing? ;) ]!  Not having spent a lot of time studying California shrubs, it's easy to start asking questions about manzanita bark.  Why is it so red?  Why does it peel?  Why is it so smooth underneath?  I wondered if there would be something protective about these features.  

Sure enough, when I looked for a quick answer on the Internet, I found a Bay Nature article entitled, Why is manzanita bark so smooth and red?  It's worth reading, but the basic idea is that the peeling bark may help prevent things from growing on the trunk/stems...and the red color is an indicator of tannins, chemicals which taste bitter and thereby reduce herbivory.

It's the total opposite of ribbon candy, which is what these beautiful shimmery peels reminded me of when I first saw them.  Perhaps that dates me somewhat, as ribbon candy doesn't seem to be as common anymore.  It used to be shared during holiday events when I was young.

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