Why is my Tree Bark Peeling?

Natural Causes & Causes for Concern


Like all living things, trees go through a lot of growth and change. Some changes—like peeling tree bark—may seem worse than they are. There are multiple reasons for tree bark peeling. Here are a few.

Natural Tree Bark Peeling

As they grow, trees go through a natural shedding process. Some trees shed more than others. Some common shedders include:

  • Sycamore
  • Redbud
  • Silver maple
  • Shagbark hickory
  • Birch
  • Scotch pine

Old, dead bark falls off in large chunks or slowly crumbles. While it may seem like a cause for concern, especially if large sheets of bark are found strewn around the trunk, don’t panic right away.

One way to determine if the tree is simply shedding is to check the trunk. If new bark is covering the wood under the old, crumbly bark, this is a sign of a natural shed. If you see something else, it may be time to call a professional for tree care.

When Peeling Tree Bark is Bad

If the bark is peeling off and leaving the trunk bare, the tree may be going through something more severe than shedding. Certain environmental factors may lead to bark peeling. Damage to the south side of the tree could be due to sunscald or frost. The more bare bark, the less likely the tree will survive. You can try to wrap the trees in the winter to shield them from harsh conditions, but you’ll want to unwrap them before the spring when insects could move in.

Also, if you notice mats of fungus under the peeling parts, your tree is battling disease. If the branches are dying and the leaves are turning yellow, wilting, and falling off prematurely, these are also signs of disease.

The longer these trees are left untreated, the more they become a hazard. Weaker trees are more prone to storm damage, and the branches become unpredictable with a high chance of breaking. Since some diseases are incurable, the only treatment is tree removal. Wood from diseased trees should be properly disposed of to prevent spreading the fungus.

Professional Tree Care

Once you determine whether the tree is naturally shedding or a disease is causing the problem, you’ll know whether you can sit back and relax or put a tree care plan in action. If you suspect your tree is peeling because of disease, it’s best to call a professional arborist to help. Not only can they help diagnose the issue, but they can remove the most hazardous branches or the entire tree if necessary. Contact Elite Tree Care for more information on peeling tree bark and what you can do to help determine what’s causing the change.

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