Prunus serrula

Trees with attractive bark

Discover six of the best garden trees to grow for their ornamental bark.

Many garden trees have a particular, defining characteristic that makes them worth growing. It might be an abundance of blossom in spring, vibrant foliage in autumn or brightly coloured fruits.

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Some tree species are highly prized for their striking, ornamental bark. These trees are particularly useful in winter, when colour and interest might otherwise be lacking.

Many trees can be crown lifted by pruning out the lowest branches, which makes the main trunk more visible. The bark of trees like birch and cherries can also be wiped with warm water and a cloth, to remove any algae obscuring the colourful stems.

More about garden trees:

Discover some of our favourite trees with attractive bark, below.


Snow gum

Eucalyptus pauciflora subsp. niphophila
Eucalyptus pauciflora subsp. niphophila

The snow gum, Eucalyptus pauciflora subsp. niphophila is an attractive evergreen tree with beautiful patchwork bark containing green, grey, green and copper tones. Grow in neutral to acidic soil in full sun.


Snake-bark maple

Acer rufinerve 'Erythrocladum'
Acer rufinerve ‘Erythrocladum’

Snake-bark maples have fabulous vertical stripes tracing the bark, created as the trunk expands. Normally the bark is an attractive silvery green, but you can also grow cultivars like ‘Erythrocladum’ and ‘Winter Gold’ that have warmer, golden-coloured bark.


Birches

Betula utilis var. jacquemontii
Betula utilis var. jacquemontii

The gleaming, usually white bark of birch trees is always a cheering sight, especially when set against a colourful backdrop. Betula utilis var. jacquemontii is a popular choice for its particularly white bark, but there are many more options. Betula albosinensis var. septentrionalis has bark in shades of mahogany, pink and white, while that of Betula ermanii is a creamy gold tone. Betula dahurica has very striking, intensely flaky bark.


Paperbark maple

Acer griseum
Acer griseum

As its common name suggests, the paperbark maple has endlessly peeling bark in a rich shade of chestnut brown. The branches have a lovely, spreading habit and in autumn the foliage turns a vivid shade of red before the leaves fall.


Prunus serrula

Prunus serrula
Prunus serrula

The Tibetan cherry, Prunus serrula, bears shiny, red-brown bark that slowly peels away. When the sun shines on the exposed trunk, it illuminates any papery fragments of bark still attached to the tree to beautiful effect.


Monkey puzzle tree

Monkey puzzle tree, Araucaria araucana
Monkey puzzle tree, Araucaria araucana
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Monkey puzzles are long-lived trees with a trunk that is covered in small leaves arranged in a mesmerising spiral. As the trunk ages and lower branches are lost, ‘eye’ holes remain where they once emerged from.