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How could trees in an environment with 23% Oxygen (The atmosphere is identical to earth in all other respects.) grow bark with Starlite-like qualities?

Starlite is a material claimed to be able to withstand and insulate from extreme heat. It was invented by British amateur chemist and hairdresser Maurice Ward during the 1970s and 1980s, and received significant publicity after coverage of the material aired in 1990 on the BBC science and technology show Tomorrow's World. The name Starlite was coined by Ward's granddaughter Kimberly Ward, who died in 2011, revealed the composition of Starlite only to his closest relatives. The material is believed to be a type of intumescent material (a material that swells with heat exposure) and products with roughly similar properties are commercially available. The American company Thermashield, LLC claims to have acquired the rights to Starlite and replicated it.

Could it absorb the materials required from the ground?

Link to a video on Starlite --> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10C5oQiUU_U

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    $\begingroup$ Remember that the increased risk of fire and increased intensity of those fires applies to the rest of the environment you are designing as well as the trees. The survival of the trees is of little use if the rest of the environment is a charred ruin. $\endgroup$ – StephenG May 5 at 17:49
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    $\begingroup$ Hi Shimmering. I added the intro to the Starlite Wiki page you linked so people could easily get the info. Links go out of date, never trust them. Always bring enough info into your question to help the reader get by. Also, since the composition of Starlite is a trade secret (and therefore unknown), no answer is legitimately possible (VTC OT:Unclear). Can you find a similar substance that declares exactly what the composition of the material is? $\endgroup$ – JBH May 5 at 17:55
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the help JBH, I do know that people have created videos showing a close replica of Starlite, but I can't for the life of me find them. I'll do a bit more digging to see if I can find them. :) $\endgroup$ – MintySoftboi May 5 at 18:01
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They do on Earth, so why not.

Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris)

[...] trees has evolved to make best use of the environment in which each species occurs. Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) bark offers protection from fire [...]

Many Scots pines have very characteristic thick protective plates on their bark, and it is thought that in areas more prone to fire the bark may become locally adapted to offer extra protection.

Cork oak (Quercus suber)

[...] is a strong fire-resistant tree species thank to is very thick and insulating corky bark. In fact it is the only European tree with the capacity to re-sprout from epicormic buds in the canopy after an intense crown-fire

In the case of cork, the protective spongy material grows to a thickness of 3-4 cm (nearly 2 inches).

When charring, the outer surface reduces to soot - essentially a (beware commercial link) - soot-coating:

Formed from any combination of metals [metal oxides], soils, acids, dust and other chemicals

The high temperature this would need to oxidize/vapourize and the spongy insulation of the remaining cork beneath provide protection for the tree.

Harvesting bark (image below), increases the tree's vulnerability to fire hugely.

enter image description here

Attribution: ecology.info 2019

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    $\begingroup$ This answer makes the assumption that the composition of Starlite (which is unknown) does not include processed materials that are not derivable through natural means. $\endgroup$ – JBH May 5 at 17:57
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH Without the question clarifying the composition of Starlite, this answer could make no other assumption. The properties are broadly (since also not specified strictly) satisfied. My answer was pre-edit. I welcome narrowing of the question, unless it invalidates existing answers, the edit applied approaches doing so.. $\endgroup$ – We are Monica. May 5 at 18:18
  • $\begingroup$ Then why'd you answer the question? Our Help Center states that we should answer well-asked questions. It goes on to say, "Not all questions can or should be answered here. Save yourself some frustration and avoid trying to answer questions which" are unclear, solicit opinions, have already been asked, that require too much guidance, or are not about worldbuilding. If you need to make an assumption to post an answer you shouldn't be answering - you should be asking for clarification. $\endgroup$ – JBH May 5 at 18:35
  • $\begingroup$ Other good (perhaps even better) examples are the Coast Redwood and Giant Sequoia trees. mature specimens of which have fire-resistant bark that can be 1-2 ft (30-60 cm) thick. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf May 5 at 18:56
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH: The question asks about a Starlite-like material, and goes on to say "Starlite is a material claimed to be able to withstand and insulate from extreme heat." So heat resistance is the only quality of Starlite we know about, and this answer points out that a number of actual plants have such bark. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf May 6 at 5:16
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Given the huge variety of chemical substances that have evolved in nature for a multiplicity of purposes, it would seem entirely reasonable that an extremely fire resistant material could evolve as the coating for a tree. That coating might be even more fire resistant than what we currently see in some tree species if the selection pressure was sufficient.

However there would need to be some very specific selection pressures for this to happen involving very high temperatures for long periods of time. There would also need to be a path of continuous small changes available to reach this state and sufficient time for the evolutionary process to occur. In summary - Yes

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Starlite is a proprietary chemical compound; so, we can not say for sure that the exact material could be organically made, but the process by which Starlite works is well enough known. A similar though be it inferior version of it can be made from a simple corn-starch, baking soda, and wood glue mixture as the starlight wikipedia page points out. These are all organic compounds that which could at least in theory be replicated by plants.

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I think if you look at aerogels1 that you will be able to adapt the manufacturing process described there into your trees. Silica Aerogels withstand 1200 degrees Celcius.

It is reasonably conceivable that the required materials are available in nature on an Earth-like planet or can be produced by the trees themselves, or in combination with its biome. In the case of silica aerogel, sand and water are widely available. the suspension could be generated, then some hand waving about catalytic enzymes to activate the sol-gel to solid transformation

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