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Choosing trees that provide seasonal interest in the fall and winter
Jill Odom | October 5, 2016
white-birch-stand

Trees that have novel bark, like white birch, can look beautiful in both the fall and winter.
Photo: InAweofGod’sCreation/

Fall wouldn’t quite be the same if the deciduous trees didn’t participate in their stunning act of transfiguration before settling down for a long winter’s nap.

Many people look forward to the fiery range of leaf colors, and the Northeast enjoys a boost in tourism during the autumn months thanks to these trees. However, once winter has arrived, these bare skeletons are rather forlorn and unremarkable.

Instead of using trees that just put on a big show in the fall, suggest to your clients some of these specimens that have visually appealing bark to add some interest even in the coldest months.

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persian-ironwood

Photo: Ryan Somma/

Persian Ironwood (Parrotia persica)

The Persian Ironwood is a relatively small tree that can be used as an accent tree in woodland designs or as a focal specimen. It can provide shade to patios or line a front yard in an urban setting. It has fantastic fall colors of yellow, red and orange. Its bark is a smooth pattern of greys, greens and whites. Grows 20 to 40 feet tall and wide.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-8
  • Full sun

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river-birch

Photo:

River Birch (Betula nigra)

This fast-growing tree can tolerate heavy clay soils and poor drainage. It can be trained to be a one trunk or a multi-trunked tree. Its dark green leaves will turn a bright butter yellow in the fall. The bark exfoliates brown curled, papery sheets revealing a buff inner layer. Deer resistant. Grows 40 to 60 feet tall and wide.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9
  • Full sun

 

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crepe-myrtle-fall

Photo:

Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)

While this tree is generally prized for its summer flowers, it also has stunning fall foliage in burning reds and yellows. It can handle clay soils and is good for mass plantings or as an accent tree. The bark sheds, leaving behind smooth cinnamon to salmon hues. Grows 15 to 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide, but varies on cultivar.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-9
  • Full sun

 

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Cornus-kousa

Photo:

Wolf Eyes Japanese Dogwood (Cornus kousa ‘Wolf Eyes’)

This dogwood cultivar features grey-green variegated leaves lined in ivory that shift to a pinkish-red during the fall. The bark is a mixture of greys, tans, and browns that looks best when wet. It has a slow growth rate and has an upright, vase shape. It produces berries that attract birds and is deer resistant. Grows 20 feet tall and wide.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-8
  • Partial sun

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Sycamore-Tree-Bark

Photo: Holly Kuchera/

Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

Considered the largest tree indigenous to eastern North America, this tree thrives in lowland areas with rich, consistently moist soils. The bark looks similar to camouflage as it exfoliates and tends to have yellow foliage during the fall. Sheds a considerable amount of detritus. Resistant to deer and air pollution. Grows 75 to 100 feet tall and wide.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9
  • Full sun

 

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snakebark-maple-phoenix

Photo:

Snakebark Maple (Acer x conspicuum ‘Phoenix’)

This rare tree is a cross between A. pensylvanicum and A. davidii and features large glossy leaves that turn golden in the fall. The bark becomes a pinkish-red lined with white snaking lines like a candy cane in the winter. Grows 15 feet tall and wide.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-8
  • Full sun to partical shade

 

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shagbark-hickory

Photo:

Shagbark Hickory (Caryo ovata)

The shagbark hickory gets its name for its bark that separates into large irregular strips that curve, giving it a shaggy appearance. The tree’s leaves turn lemony yellow to golden brown through the fall. It produces nuts that both wildlife and humans can eat. Grows 70 to 90 feet tall and 50 to 70 feet wide.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-8
  • Full sun to part shade

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