It seems to happen overnight – the tree bark on Madrones and Manzanitas breaks and peels back.

Madrone, Arbutus menziesii – Summertime Bark break exfoliating

If you are in just the right spot on a hot Summer day in the California coastal woodlands the crackling you hear is not the crunch of dry grass and brush underfoot, it is the bark splitting apart, exfoliating.

Scientists are unsure why trees shed their bark, but to a Californian it is a sure sign of summer, and to a photographer it offers a visual treat, not unlike old paint peeling off old wood.

Summertime Bark break Manzanita exfoliating

Some think the exfoliating bark is an evolutionary response to fungus or boring beetles, some think it is a natural adaptation of the swelling girth of certain trees.

No matter the reason it seems to happen all at once to our native Manzanita and Madrone (Arbutus menziesii).

The trees do develop typical, woody bark on the trunk and oldest branches, and in those areas when bark break comes, it seems like layers of clothing are coming off, while we get a glimpse of the tree disrobing.

Madrone – Summertime Bark break

Manzanita bark seems to peel back in tighter rolls, seemingly like hair curlers.

Manzanita – Summertime Bark break, exfoliating

I came across these woodland wonders unexpectedly, on a morning walk with my dog Kona.

Kona dog watching Madrone - Summertime Bark break

I did not expect so many photo opportunities and took all the photos with my iPhone; only proving the best camera is the one you have with you.

Manzanita – Summertime Bark break, exfoliating