Tree smells like vinegar

I have an old oak tree (probably as old as my house--81 years old)...I'm trying to treat it well so that it will last even longer...today I was pulling ivy off the trunk and I noticed that there was a distinct smell of vinegar coming from the tree bark. When I leaned closer, I confirmed it was definitely coming from the tree--kind of a clean smell, like apple cider vinegar but I find it strange! Kirsten
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Kirsten,
I split a lot of red oak for firewood, and I too have experienced that smell-- vinegar or almost a mustard smell from the wood. If you were smelling it from pulling ivy, I suspect it's coming from the corky bark and not the interior wood, so I wouldn't worry.
--
David J. Bockman, Fairfax, VA (USDA Hardiness Zone 7)
email: snipped-for-privacy@beyondgardening.com
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You're probably smelling tannin, a natural preservative in oak bark. It used to be harvested for the natural preservation of animal hide, to make it into leather.
Janet.
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