Bark as a Life-Saving Filtration Device?

Plant life offers so many environmental benefits to our world. Aside from making our land a greener, more attractive place to live in, they help to clean the air and provide much needed shade during the summer months. There are few better ways to promote social and environmental health in our own backyards by cultivating and maintaining the verdant life already there for us.

Now researchers have found that bark stripped from some trees can even be a life-saving filtration device when stuck in the wilderness. As this article published by MIT News Office discusses, a team of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently found that sapwood can effectively eliminate 99 percent of E. coli bacterium from lake water.

Water filtration systems for hikers and outdoorsmen have been widely available over the years. However, these units suffer from various drawbacks; heat sanitizers usually require a lot of energy to work, while chlorine systems usually cost too much money for the average hiker. This simple sapwood system not only creates filtered water from a readily available medium, it can produce up to four liters a day, plenty of water for an individual.

The xylem tissue found in sapwood seems to be the pivotal part of the bark structure providing filtration. This porous tissue contains pit membranes, tiny pores that reduce the formation of bubbles in tree sap. This process also performs the job of trapping microbial organisms, preventing them from passing through the bark. Although the level of filtration varies greatly by plant species, researchers are now trying to find which common trees and plants best provide this antimicrobial activity.

Cold Stream Farms hasn’t ripped off a hunk of bark from any of our fine shrub and tree nursery products to filter our water, but there’s no denying the way our greenery can freshen up the look of any outdoor space. Call us today to discuss our inventory, or come visit our Free Soil, MI location and see it for yourself.