Shining Birch Bark Cherry is, as the common names suggest, most noted for its outstanding glossy reddish-brown bark. Old bark peels somewhat like a birch to reveal a polished sheen that is typically described as being reddish brown, copper brown or mahogany brown. Native to Western China and Tibet, this is a rounded deciduous tree that typically grows to 20 to 30 feet tall. Narrow, lance-shaped, willow like, dark green leaves to 4 inches long are serrated (serrula meaning with saw-like teeth). Small white flowers 3/4 inch across bloom singly or in 2 to 4 flowered umbels in March-April as the foliage emerges. Flowers are followed by cherry like red fruit (1/2 inch diameter drupes), which are not recommended for eating. The leaves turn a clean yellow in autumn and fall away to reveal the tree's skin in all its glory. In the right light, it really does seem to be sculpted from polished copper or bronze but with a richer tone than either. Shining Birch Bark Cherry is not a very big tree and is an excellent choice for a small garden where space and light are limited. The sheer beauty of the bark deserves to be the centre of attention.
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