Trees and Shrubs with Unusual Bark

Cornus varieties:
There are so many varieties of Cornus that hold their own in the winter time, regardless of being deciduous. They seem to be the best genus for vibrant colourful bark, so here are a few of the best: Cornus alba sibirica has bright red stems, Cornus kesselringii has dark brown almost purple-black stems, Cornus stolonifera flaviramea has bright acid yellow stems, and Cornus sanguinea Midwinter Fire has brilliant red tipped stems that merge into fiery orange, and then dazzling yellow nearer the base of the plant. All the stems are quite glossy which makes them look like they have been painted …

Acer davidii George Forest:
Known as Snake-bark Maple, this tree has unusual red bark with pale white streaks along it, and bright red petioles (leaf stalks). As the tree matures, the older bark turns green-brown but retains the snake-skin pattern. The leaves turn bright orange-yellow in the autumn, which contrast beautifully with the brilliant red stems. This is quite a good tree for a small garden.

Acer palmatum Sango Kaku:
This tree has beautiful bright green palmate leaves with red-tinted edges, turning vivid orange and yellow in the autumn. The vibrant red stems are attractive all year round, giving it the common name of Coral-bark Maple. The contrast of the acid green leaves with the bright red stems is very striking.

Betula jacquemontii:
The most obvious and popular choice for a tree with ornamental bark. The bright white papery bark will stand out in border, garden or woodland, and look particularly good when planted ‘en masse’.

Prunus serrula:
Apart from it’s beautiful display of white cherry blossom in the spring, this tree is often chosen for it’s attractive bark. The bark is coppery-brown and shiny. It is not a massive tree, but possibly better placed in a larger garden. Good autumn foliage.

Other plants with unusual bark:
Acer griseum (paper-bark maple, with curling brown bark that goes crispy and flakes off … not my favourite but people seem to like it…), Eucalyptus gunnii (a bit of a brute, but nice bark—a sort of silvery camouflage pattern), and Salix alba Chermesina (gorgeous vivid orange stems).

Trees and Shrubs with Unusual Bark
Trees and Shrubs with Unusual Bark
Trees and Shrubs with Unusual Bark

From Left to Right: Cornus alba, Acer palmatum Sango Kaku (Photo: Everystockphoto “Acer palmatum Sango Kaku“/Resized from original) Prunus serrula (Photo: Everystockphoto “Prunus serrula“/Resized from original)

Ruby Simpson can’t remember a time when she hasn’t been interested in horticulture. After years of practical experience and training, she now works for Nicholsons as our CAD Manager and Planting Designer. Her passion for plants and interest in all genres of design translates through to stylish, plant-filled gardens to suit the individual needs and tastes of each client.

Trees and Shrubs with Unusual Bark