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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Hide CaptionShow CaptionThe Japanese flowering cherry has glossy bark that contrasts the winter landscape. (Photo courtesy of Monrovia)
Blooming as early as April, the Japanese flowering cherry (Prunus serrulata) is often considered a spring sentinel. The single or double flowers range from white to deep pink; fragrance is an added bonus. 'Kwanson' exhibits a striking orange to bronze foliage color in fall. Once the foliage has fallen, this tree glows with its magnificent bark that dazzles the winter landscape. The bark exfoliates to reveal glossy patches in shades of red, brown and mahogany, and the corky horizontal lenticels are genuinely attractive on most cherries. Most people prefer cultivars that get only 20 to 25 feet tall, while the straight species gets to be 50 to 75 feet; considered to be a fast to medium grower. Hardy to USDA Zone 5.
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