Biology

Difference Between Cork and Bark

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Main Difference

The main difference between Cork and Bark is that Cork is an insulating, tough, and sticky outermost layer of cells of bark that restricts the water loss whereas, Bark is an outer protective layer of woody plants which provide storage and transport.

Cork vs. Bark

Cork is a layer of bark emerging from the outer cork cambium surface of cells, while the bark is the outer protective layer of woody plants. Cork serves as an insulating, tough, and waxy cell layer which refrains the water loss of stem and roots whereas; bark serves as the protective layer which provides transportation and storage of wooden plants.

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The formation of cork is via cork cambium, and the division of the cork cambium cells includes cork cells which are responsible for the formation of cork. And the formation of bark is by both layers of cork cambium and vascular cambium. Cork is itself the part or component of bark; however, the bark is composed of many layers of cork cambium, cork, phelloderm, secondary phloem, vascular cambium, and secondary xylem. The cells of cork tissue are dead, and suberin is present in the cell walls of cork tissues, while the cells of bark tissues are live such as secondary phloem and cork cambium.

Usage of cork is in the production of table matt to prevent tables from hot pans, bung stoppers of wine bottles, insulators, coasters, sealing of lids of the containers, gaskets of engines, floors, fishing rod handles and tennis rackets, etc.; on the other hand, uses of bark include the production of clapboards, resins, wall tile, latex, flavorings, medicines, spices, ropes, and clothes.

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Comparison Chart

CorkBark
Cork is a tough, waxy outermost layer of cells of bark in stem and roots.The bark is the outer layer of the stem and roots of woody plants with provides protection.
Formation
Cork cambiumVascular cambium, Cork cambium
Cells
It has dead cells.It has live cells of secondary phloem.
Function
Protection from water lossProtection, storage, transportation
Appearance
WoodyWaxy, tough

What is Cork?

Cork is an insulating, tough, and sticky outermost layer of cells of bark that restricts the water loss from stem and roots. The division of the cork cambium cells includes cork cells which are responsible for the formation of cork. Cork is one of the layers among other layers of the bark. Bark cambium, phellogen and, pericambium are also known as cork cambium.

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The epidermis of the plant is replaced by cuboidal cells, filled with suberin that is generated in the outer layer by cork cambium. The cells of cork become dead cells when the suberin is saturated in the cork cambium with suberin, and these dead cells further serve as a protective layer that is impermeable or resistant to air and water. It also protects from the incursion of insects, bacteria, and fungi that cause infection, so it acts as a barrier against any damage or pathogen. Still, due to the existence of lenticels, which are pores of barks, causes the gas exchange within the cork. Because of this reason, plant cork is used widely to make stoppers and insulation products. As a result, cork serves as a protective layer of plants, and it contains many layers of cells.

Phelloderm is the cells on the interior side of cork cambium, while the cork cells are the cells that are present at the outside of the cork cambium. Periderm consists of both cork and cork cambium and the cork, which is the outer part of the bark. Each plant varies in its cork thickness. The commercial cork is made by a type of tree called cork oak. Usage of cork is in the production of table matt to prevent tables from hot pans, bung stoppers of wine bottles, insulators, coasters, sealing of lids of the containers, gaskets of engines, floors, fishing rod handles and tennis rackets, etc.

What is Bark?

The bark is the outer layer of woody plants that serves as the protective layer providing the transportation and storage of wooden plants. Bark consists of layers of cells outside the vascular cambium that covers the wood. The Bark can be divided into two layers; the inner layer of bark and outer bark. The inner bark has innermost living tissues of periderm and is alive with some meristematic cells. The outer bark has cork cells that are dead.

Anatomically and functionally, the bark is a complex part of plants as they consist of many layers. Bark has three layers of cork, cork cambium, and secondary phloem. The vascular cambium forms the inner bark consisting of secondary phloem. Cuboidal cells are present in the cork cambium that further divides and produces cork cells. The mature or old stems and trunks have dead tissues in their outer bark outside the periderm; therefore, its outer bark is also called the rhytidome. Cork cambium lifetime is shorter than the vascular cambium.

Wound healing, storage of organic materials and water, translocation, and protection of the inner tissue cells from mechanical damages and infections are the main functions of a bark. Uses of bark include the production of clapboards, resins, wall tile, latex, flavorings, medicines, spices, ropes, and clothes.

The layers of bark of mature stem from outside to inside include the fist layer of ‘bark,’ which consists of further three divisions; ‘pericardium’ that consists of cork (phellem), rhytidome, cork cambium (phellogen), phelloderm and ‘cortex’ and ‘phloem.’ The second layer is ‘Vascular cambium.’ The third is ‘Wood (xylem),’ which is further divided into sapwood (alburnum) and heartwood (duramen). The fourth layer is ‘Pith (medulla).’

Key Differences

  1. Cork is a layer of bark emerging from the outer cork cambium surface of cells, while the bark is the outer protective layer of woody plants.
  2. Cork serves as an insulating, tough, and waxy cell layer which refrains the water loss of stem and roots whereas; bark serves as the protective layer which provides transportation and storage of wooden plants.
  3. The formation of cork is via cork cambium, which includes cork cells and is responsible for the formation of cork, while the formation of bark is by both layers of cork cambium and vascular cambium.
  4. Cork is itself the part or component of bark. On the flip side, the bark is composed of many layers of cork cambium, cork, phelloderm, secondary phloem, vascular cambium, and secondary xylem.
  5. The cells of cork tissue are dead, and suberin is present in the cell walls of cork tissues. Conversely, the cells of bark tissues are live such as secondary phloem and cork cambium.
  6. Usage of cork is in the production of table matt to prevent tables from hot pans, bung stoppers of wine bottles, insulators, coasters, sealing of lids of the containers, gaskets of engines, floors, fishing rod handles and tennis rackets, etc. On the other hand, uses of bark include the production of clapboards, resins, wall tile, latex, flavorings, medicines, spices, ropes, and clothes.

Conclusion

Cork and bark both are outer layers of plants. The difference between cork and bark is based on their composition and function. Cork is an insulating, tough, and waxy layer of cells, while the bark is a protective layer that provides storage, transportation and is composed of cork, cork cambium, phelloderm, cortex, and the secondary phloem.

Janet White

Janet White is a writer and blogger for Difference Wiki since 2015. She has a master's degree in science and medical journalism from Boston University. Apart from work, she enjoys exercising, reading, and spending time with her friends and family. Connect with her on Twitter @Janet__White

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