Possible to make a non messy flowmap material?

I want to use flow-maps to define the direction of bark on tree trunks. The Flowmap materials I’ve tried, will all distort textures in an very messy way. this is OK for liquids, but not tree trunks, as the bark texture must be rotated 90 degrees and must not be a distorted mess.

I would probably not do this because it will have a tendency to distort badly. If anything you need to try very very blurry flowmap textures to avoid stretching but it will still not be great.

You can also try doing the distortion on the custom UVs which would be similar to actually distorting the UVs themselves rather than the texture.

Does anyone know what software has good UV distortion tools? I would need something that allows you to gently pull and bend UV islands around. A brushmode type tool would be particularly good.
Maya has A 3D UV grabber brush, but its terrible because it doesn’t work across UV islands and generally produces unexpectedly strange results.