Camouflage is a French word that means the act of disguising. Some say the "father of camouflage" is Abbott Handerson Thayer, an American artist. He was the first to research "disruptive patterning" to break up an object's outline.
(Left) Thayer's painting entitled, "Peacock in the Woods" demonstrates how an animal can 'camouflage' themselves in nature.
Thayer first became involved in military camouflage in 1898, during the Spanish–American War. He and his friend, George de Forest Brush, proposed the use of protective coloration on American ships, using countershading. The two artists did obtain a patent for their idea in 1902, titled "Process of Treating the Outsides of Ships, etc., for Making Them Less Visible", in which their method is described as having been modeled on the coloration of a seagull.
In 1915, during World War I, Thayer made proposals to the British War Office, trying unsuccessfully to persuade them to adopt a disruptively patterned battledress, in place of monochrome khaki. Meanwhile, Thayer and Brush's proposal for the use of counter shading in ship camouflage was approved for use on American ships, and a handful of Thayer enthusiasts recruited hundreds of artists to join the American Camouflage Corps.
So it seems that the tree I saw may have not been the primary inspiration! (But it was definitely a part of it!)