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DesireeCassandra's avatar

Why are some trees painted white?

Asked by DesireeCassandra (1130points) April 24th, 2009

I have seen big trees, not sure what kind, here in Michigan, and back home in New Mexico painted white. From the middle of the trunk to the ground it is painted white.

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19 Answers

seekingwolf's avatar

I’ve heard a couple different reasons…many say that it’s for insect prevention on the bark and also to protect against sun damage to the bark.

YARNLADY's avatar

What appears to be white paint is actually an insect repellent.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Whatever it is, it doesn’t sound good for the environment. Especially if it is an insect repellent. Gross to say the least.

YARNLADY's avatar

@RedPowerLady I don’t think it’s poison, but rather a petroleum product of some sort. It is relatively permanent.

AstroChuck's avatar

Are you sure you aren’t just seeing birch trees?

archaeopteryx's avatar

That white “painting” you see is actually a chemical material to prevent some certain kinds of insects from eating and harming the tree. In Arabic, we call this: “Sheed (شيد)”. I’m not sure what they call it in English though..

chyna's avatar

@archaeopteryx So, if it is a chemical to prevent insects, could it harm other animals such as squirrels, dogs, or even birds?

gailcalled's avatar

@AstroChuck: Here we have black birch (twigs taste like wintergreen,) gray birches, yellow, white and paper birches. Only the last two are white.

archaeopteryx's avatar

@chyna

No, it doesn’t.

crisw's avatar

Most tree paints don’t have any insecticides in them and are harmless too the environment. They do protect trunks from sun damage.

archaeopteryx's avatar

@crisw

Actually, other than protection from sun damage, it also works as a cover between the body of the tree and the air, sun light, sun heat, so it helps in preventing the body of the tree from drying, and helps preserving the water, keeping it moist and healthy.

And, about the insect-protection part, when I asked my dad about it, he told me that it doesn’t actually kill insects and worms, as much as it might sometimes help preventing them from climbing the tree and reaching the branches and leaves, but it doesn’t do a great job in that either.

gailcalled's avatar

The tree damage here is from woodpeckers who rip the bark off to eat the insects and larvae who rustle. Often the ground is strewn with large pieces of wood that look as though someone is reroofing. The pileated is the worst offender, but the flickers will do major damage, all without brain damage also.

I have decided to live and let live. Mother Nature wins in the end, no matter what tricks we come up with.

DesireeCassandra's avatar

@AstroChuck That’s what my girlfriend said too. But they are not birch trees.

Cardinal's avatar

@gailcalled I’m sorry to see you are now eating twigs! Having a hard winter up in the NE? It’s lovely here in the Seattle area.

gailcalled's avatar

@Cardinal; Knowing little factoids about the countryside is what separates the week-enders from the locals. (Birch beer was made from black birch.) We also pick tender young sorrel and dandeiion greens for early spring salad rather than paying $5 for a bag of mesclun.

It is gorgeous here today. Roses and lilacs are leafing out, the few tulips the squirrels left me are in bud and Milo wasn’t eaten by a fox. A good day.

Shreyas's avatar

If you have seen trees at side of the road, painted white, then thats for safety of the passengers. When we travel in the night for a long journey its complete darkness on the road and so if trees are not painted they will not be easily visible and an accident may take place. By applying paint you will white color very easily when vehicle lights fall on it. You will also find trees painted in gardens, city roads for same reason i.e. clear visibility during night.

DesireeCassandra's avatar

@Shreyas That totally makes sense!!! Thanks!

Shreyas's avatar

My Pleasure! Welcome Any time…

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