What is Lacebark?

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  • Last Modified Date: 27 March 2020
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Lacebark can be many types of trees, depending on where a person is in the world. There are several trees known by this name, and these include a pine and an elm, and the Jamaican lace-bark tree. Alternately, the name may refer to flowering plants or short trees in New Zealand of the Hoheria genus.

Typically, lacebark refers to trees that shed their bark in patterns. This is true of the Chinese lacebark elm and pine. The pine or Pinus bungeana, has this particular characteristic or lacey look, especially as it matures. Shedding bark shows attractive colors underneath that eventually change colors to a deep purple. People don’t need to travel to China to view this pine, as it grows well in other places too, and has been grown in place likes the US since the mid-19th century.

Lacebark elm or Ulmus parvifolia, is another tree native to China and to other parts of Asia like Korea and Japan. It too is not exclusively grown in Asia but can also be found in Europe, Africa, Australia, and the US and Canada. Like P. bungeana, U. parvifolia has the bark-shedding characteristic, and over time this shedding can result in a lacelike pattern that is a mix of grays, browns, and subtle reds. U. parvifolia has also been celebrated because it tends to resist conditions like Dutch elm disease.


Another tree is Lagetta lintearia or the Jamaican lace-bark tree. The fibers of this tree have a similar lace appearance, but interestingly, the inside core of the tree is somewhat gauzy and may actually be used to make some types of clothing. Unlike the pine and the elm, there is not significant growth of the L. lintearia outside of the West Indies. A few trees can be found in Europe, but usually have to be grown in greenhouses because the plant thrives best in its native climate.

Lastly, there is Hoheria or simply lacebark, which means several plants or short trees or shrubs that are grown in New Zealand and in places like Papua New Guinea. Many of these plants are more celebrated for their fragrant flowers than they are for their bark. In bush form, the bark may not be much evident at all, though some shedding of the bark might be noted when Hoheria is grown as a tree.

There are plenty of other trees that shed bark, and any gardener needs to weigh the potential attractiveness of lacey bark, with the messiness of the tree. Trees like the crepe myrtle, which isn’t technically a lacebark, have a yearly shedding that can result in a lot of sweeping or raking. This may be more time-consuming than some gardeners want. On the other hand, varicolored bark is quite lovely to look upon, and especially the lacebark elm or pine, which are fairly easy to obtain, may be great additions to a garden.


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