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Have you ever given any thought to our use of stems? Do you know about anything that is made from stems? How about your house? Lumber comes from stems, because tree trunks and branches are actually stems. How about anything else you have that is made of wood? More stems.

Do you ever have a fire in your fireplace? Or burn charcoal in your barbecue? Stems.

Wood as stems is too easy. Let's think of some other ways that people use stems. How about grass stems? People in some parts of Europe, South Pacific Islands, in Africa, and many other places use stems from various grasses to make their roofs. It's called "thatch." Some people have thatched walls. In some parts of the world, bamboo is used for many, many different kinds of things. Bamboo shoots (very young bamboo stems) are diced and eaten in Chinese food. (Pandas get the leaves!)

In rain forests, there are always vines. Vines are stems. Many of the animals climb and swing on vines. Tarzan swings on vines, in the movies!

We chop up the stems (stalks) of corn plants to feed to cattle.

How many other things do we make from stems? How else do we use stems?

What about bark? Do we use bark? Bark is the protective coating on trees. We use the bark of the cork tree to make corks for wine bottles and other things. Cork is also used for some kinds of kitchen floors, because it is soft to walk on, and it wears well.

We use the bark of the sassafras tree to flavor root beer. My grandmother used to make sassafras tea, and said that it is good for the blood! The bark of the cassia tree, which grows in India and Malaya, is ground to make cinnamon, which we use for flavorings. A medicine called quinine, used for malaria, is made from the bark of the cinchona tree, which grows in South America. (Our pharmacologists are now discovering that native remedies made from various barks, stems, leaves, and flowers are truly helpful in curing or easing certain illnesses.) Hemlock bark is used in tanning leather. They used to boil the bark of hemlock to make poison. That wasn't very nice.

What other uses can we find for barks?

Dogs use barks to scare people!!!

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