Smooth-barked trees for your landscape
|Pawpaw (Asimina triloba). Photo by Kurt Stueber|
A landscape with a variety of tree barks has visual interest, especially in winter. Trees have many variations in their bark -- color, texture, thickness, etc. When the trees are leafless, the bark becomes a very noticeable feature. This article focuses on trees with very smooth bark.
Unfortunately, trees with smooth bark are appealing to vandals. I've seen beech trees sadly defaced by obscenities, carved with a knife into the smooth bark on the tree trunks. If you're looking for a tree to plant beside the street or road, a smooth-barked tree may not be the best choice.
Many trees have smooth bark as young saplings, but only a few trees retain smooth bark for their entire lives. Here is a list of five native trees with smooth bark, even in maturity:
Also worth knowing
Poison-sumac, a small tree (or shrub), is mentioned here only because it might be useful to know that it has smooth bark for identification purposes. Try not to touch poison sumac at all because twigs, leaves, bark, flowers, fruit, and even the roots contain urushiol. Urushiol is a natural oil that produces a itchy and potentially serious skin rash in most humans. This same oil is found in poison ivy and poison oak.