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.

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Beginning in youth (the second year or so), the cinnamon and reddish bark of paperbark maple (Acer griseum) begins to peel. In older trees, exfoliation may slow down or stop, but the bark retains its rich brown and red tones. In winter the snow accentuates the young reddish-brown stems. This slow-growing, small (20 to 30 feet) tree adapts to clay soils but prefers moist, well-drained soils in full sun. Its hardiness and performance and make this a great small specimen tree. Fits beautifully into smaller landscapes. Hardy in USDA Zones 5 to 8.