Why Did They Used To Paint Tree Trunks White?

April 18, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

WhiteTreeBlog copyWhiteTreeBlog copy

Does anyone remember family members white washing or painting their tree trunks white? I don’t see that much anymore, but whenever I think about “white trees” it makes me think of my great-grandparents home on Route 7 along the Ohio River in Ohio where they painted their two main trees in front of their house. This photo below from 1951 you can see the young tree trunks painted. I have older photos of this home with the trees even smaller, but because of the black and white image, size of the trees, and the image contrast I cannot make out whether or not they are white at that time.

IrionHome copyIrionHome copy

From what I’ve read people did for a few different reasons – repel insects and fungi, insulation for cold weather, and to reflect the light from the sun on young bark so they are not sun-scalded that can cause the trunks to split. I guess it apparently worked at my great-grandparent’s home as those two trees are still standing and of course significantly larger after 80 or more years of growth!

Also, for those that have read this far but aren't from the area, that is tobacco growing in my great-grandfather's field.

Below is an image of a long gone family member while visiting a park in Huntington, WV in 1913. As you can see they REALLY went to town white washing the trees - many up to 10 to 12 feet up the trunks!

HuntingtonPark1913 copyHuntingtonPark1913 copy


No comments posted.