SOLVED: Weird Tree Bark

Brooklyn, NY

Hi all,

I found a strange tree in Belmont Plateau, a section of Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. I was hoping someone here might be able to help me, even though I don't have much to go on besides this picture of the bark, and that it's opposite. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!



Thumbnail by lilium215
Richmond, TX

We have a type of non-fruiting Mulberry that has similar bark.

Atlanta, GA(Zone 8a)

It looks a lot like the bark on my Burch tree.

Pequannock, NJ(Zone 6b)

Check out this link for paper mulberry - Broussonetia papyrifera or Morus papyrifera. Scroll down to the bottom for the very last picture on the page of young bark.
But the leaves aren't opposite.

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

None of the examples mentioned have opposite arrangement of buds/leaves/twigs.

MADHORSE (or MADBUCK) is the commonly taught acronym for commonly encountered native trees with opposite arrangement of foliage.

M = Maple (Acer sp.)
A = Ash (Fraxinus sp.)
D = Dogwood (Cornus sp.)
HORSE/BUCK = (Aesculus sp.)

Unfortunately, I don't think any of these native species match the bark image shown. Additionally, Fairmount Park in Philadelphia could be home to all sorts of non-native introduced exotic species of trees, both planted and serendipitous.

Finally: lilium215 did not do anyone any favors by having an excellent memory/record of the location of this plant, but failed to record any more information than this one image - especially when it is clear that identification was a primary goal.

I don't believe that this is a tree species with opposite foliage. I'm far more inclined to believe that it is a Lacebark Elm (Ulmus parvifolia) - a very commonly planted and adventitiously occurring exotic ornamental species - which would have this kind of characteristic on its way to adulthood, when jigsaw-puzzle like exfoliating bark would be the order of its day.

Pequannock, NJ(Zone 6b)

Looking at the characteristics of the bark, I'm not convinced it is a lacebark although that was the first tree I went to when I saw the photo. I'm not sure that it is a paper mulberry either but given just this photo, I personally can't rule it out. Take that for what it's worth which isn't much. The fact that you called it opposite doesn't match either but if you look at some photos of mulberry branches and stems, you will see some opposite arrangements occurring here and there.
Anyway, it is a beautiful bark. I hope someone sets you straight. Next time, if you could get details of buds, stems, branches and the whole tree, it would make it easier to identify. Maybe you'll get to pass by there when it is in leaf, flower or seed and then we will know for sure.

San Francisco, CA

There are several "snake-bark" maples, including the native "moosewood", and some Asian species. Might be one of those.

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

Agree with Vestia on the snakebark type maples, and Acer pensylvanicum would be the local favorite. However, descriptions of Moosewood bark say few lenticels. That image says lots of lenticels.

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

I google mapped in on the Belmont Plateau area of Fairmount Park, and it was easy to see from the street view that many ornamental trees are planted throughout. There is substantial wooded areas around the old Belmont Mansion, which likely had a designed landscape full of ornamental species before this became parkland.

The unknown could be lots of things. Lesson is: take diagnostic pictures (whole plant, then buds, leaves, flowers, fruit) and then auxiliary images of other plant parts and features. Digital images are (essentially) free - take lots.

Brooklyn, NY

Hi all,

Thanks for the help! I think it is Paper Mulberry. As luck would have it, I ran by a tree with the same bark yesterday. And on closer inspection, the tree was alternate. The confusion was that the buds closer to the end of the twig were very close together, and looked opposite at first glance.

I took a sample and the buds look very much like the buds displayed on the given websites.

Thanks again for all your help!


Pequannock, NJ(Zone 6b)

Well, that's awesome!
It made me think of snakewood maple too. And that led me to finding all these beautiful snakewood species that I never looked at before. And now I have a pinterest page on bark so thank you for the interesting photo.

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

Paper-mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera) is a pestiferous exotic tree in the eastern US. It will have the best diagnostic clue from the fuzzy year-old stems, the newest growth. Not many (any?) plants will have that, except for maybe Rhus typhina.

Glad you've determined the ID, and found the proper arrangement of buds (leaves). Here are some images from during the growing season, in Louisville KY.

Thumbnail by ViburnumValley Thumbnail by ViburnumValley Thumbnail by ViburnumValley

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