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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The dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) is a giant among its peers; this fast-growing deciduous conifer can reach heights of 70 to 100 feet and has been part of the global landscape for more than 50 million years. It has a neat cone-shaped habit and is very upright. The fine-textured foliage may turn orange-brown, red-brown or simply brown before dropping. The pendulous dark brown cones add appeal. In youth the bark is a stark reddish-brown, becoming darker and grayer with age, peeling and developing deep fissures. The dawn redwood's base becomes buttressed and develops uneven lengthwise ridges. It grows in full sun in moist, well-drained soils. Hardy in USDA Zones (4)5 to 8.