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How to Make Bark and Leaf Rubbings

Make bark and leaf rubbings to learn more about the nature of the plants growing around us and the wondrous patterns which define them.


  • TIP: Make rubbings of several leaves from a single plant for in-depth study.
  • Step 1: Paste your rubbings onto pieces of cardboard for easy handling and preservation.
  • Step 2: Bring your mounted rubbings out in nature to identify trees and plants by matching your crayon images to flora. Consider yourself a budding naturalist now that you can recognize tree and plant species.
  • FACT: A single tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.
  • Step 3: Collect a variety of leaves before departing from the habitat to create rubbings from them later.
  • Step 4: Select one or more leaves to place on the clipboard, cover them with a sheet of paper, and then rub across the paper with a peeled crayon to pick up leaf shapes and veins.
  • TIP: Use a tree field guide to classify trees and leaves.
  • Step 5: Tape a sheet of paper to the trunk of a tree you wish to study.
  • Step 6: Peel the paper cover from a crayon and rub the side of the crayon across the paper, picking up the bark pattern. Remove the paper from the tree and repeat the process on a different tree species.
  • TIP: Make rubbings of at least two tree species to compare bark characteristics.
  • Step 7: Take your paper, tape, crayons, and a clipboard to the habitat site you wish to investigate.

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