Barking Up the Right Tree

The beauty of unclothed deciduous trees includes one of their most overlooked but dramatic features: the bark. Especially in winter the many colors, textures and patterns of bark in selected species seem to take on a whole new beauty.

  • The exfoliating, multicolored bark of the river birch is showiest when the tree is young. The bark of mature river birches is dark gray and deeply fissured.
  • The crape myrtle has a long flowering season.
  • The ironwood is nicknamed musclewood for the sinewy ridges of its trunk. (Photo by David Sanford)
  • The fast-growing zelkova makes a good shade tree. (Photo by Hugh Conlon)
  • The paperbark maple has rich, red and brown peeling bark.
  • Typically 20 to 30 feet high and wide in the landscape, this venerable specimen of Kousa dogwood at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, measures approximately 35 feet wide. (Photo by Hugh Conlon)
  • The Japanese flowering cherry has glossy bark that contrasts the winter landscape. (Photo courtesy of Monrovia)
  • This Japanese stewartia has sinewy bark and grows to 30 to 40 feet tall. (Photo by Hugh Conlon)
  • The bark of a cone-shaped dawn redwood grays with age. (Photo by Hugh Conlon)
  • The bark of lacebark pine exfoliates to a variety of colors. (Photo by Hugh Conlon)
  • Variably gray to reddish brown, the bark of Eastern redcedar peels off in long strips. (Photo by Hugh Conlon)
  • The shagbark hickory can reach 60 to 80 feet tall. (Photo by Hugh Conlon)
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