Why is Bark Falling off My Tree (Oak, Pine, Ash, Maple)?

Why is Bark Falling off My Tree (Oak, Pine, Ash, Maple)?

Full canopies, plump fruit, thick bark—all these things describe a healthy tree. But what happens when one is missing?

If your tree is missing chunks of bark, it may not look so hot. But does it mean something’s wrong?

If you spot peeling bark on your tree, help it out by learning about the causes—and solutions—below.



Why is my tree losing its bark?

Usually, it’s normal for a tree to lose bark. For some species, like sycamore, silver maple, and birch, shedding large chunks of bark is just one of their charms! Other trees, like oak, pine, ash, and maple, develop from the inside out, so the older bark on top chips away to make room for new bark.

As long as there’s healthy bark underneath the peeling layers, your tree is OK. But if you see these other signs, your tree needs a bit more help:

  • Bark falls off after frost, which usually happens on the tree’s south or southwest side. Any sudden swing in temperature can make trees shed bark and crack under stress.
  • Bark falls off after excessive heat, which, like frost damage, strips bark down to the wood.
  • Bark falls off an unhealthy tree, which means you’d see other signs of stress such as cankers, sap, or dead leaves and twigs.

If bark is falling off my tree, is it dying?

Sadly, there’s no easy yes or no to this question. But, if the tree appears overall healthy, there’s a good chance it’s just peeling for growth. If your tree lost bark after an unusual weather incident, you can usually save it with the below steps! The biggest question is if you spot other worrisome signs that point to other bigger problems.

What to Do About Pine, Maple, Oak or Ash Tree Bark Falling Off

If bark is peeling with no other symptoms, it’s likely because of weather stress. Stressed trees love water and mulch! So, hydrate the tree when its soil is dry and apply organic mulch in spring and fall.

If your tree looks unhealthy, give it a closer look. A host of tree pests and diseases can affect your ash, pine, oak or maple. There’s the infamous EAB that burrows underneath ash tree wood and the smooth patch disease, a fungus that attacks the outer layer of oak bark.

If you find any signs of pest or disease—sawdust, oozing cankers, dead leaves, or a fuzzy fungus—have a professional arborist check it out. He’ll let you know if you can treat the problem or if you need to remove it to keep other plants on your property out of harm’s way.

Need an arborist to pinpoint why your tree is losing bark? Request a free consultation today!

  • the Tree Doctor November 20, 2018 >Hi Walt, For most soils, it is recommended to use the original soil excavated from the planting hole for the backfill material whenever possible. The exception is if the existing soil has a very high clay content. In that case, amending the existing soil with 25% b/v compost is recommended. The idea is to avoid creating an interface barrier with highly amended soil in the planting hole next to the native soil outside the planting hole. Hopefully, this helps. Best of luck to you, Walt.
  • Walt Jansen November 9, 2018 >Hello, We just finished planting a number of Sugar maples for a customer. We normally dig larger holes for the wire baskets plus we use triple mix soil around the tree ball. We were told by the forestry people that we should use the soil that we dug out of the hole and put it around the tree ball. Can someone shed some light on this subject. Thanks.
  • The Tree Doctor October 10, 2018 >Hi Jeannee, I recommend having a certified arborist come out and take a look. They will be able to properly diagnose what is going on and prescribe a treatment plan if necessary. Unfortunately, Davey Tree does not service your area. Here is a resource that can help you with finding a certified arborist: http://www.davey.com/arborist-advice/articles/hiring-a-tree-service-provider-or-an-arborist/. Hopefully, this helps. Best of luck to you, Jeannee.
  • Jeannee Taylor October 1, 2018 >suddenly my massive oak tree has some greenish patches and loosening bark. I just had it trimmed a month ago.
  • The Tree Doctor August 28, 2018 >Hi Steve, Unfortunately, Davey Tree does not service your area based on the zip code you provided. Based on your needs, I would make sure you hire a certified arborist for this. Here is a resource that can help you with hiring a certified arborist: http://www.davey.com/arborist-advice/articles/hiring-a-tree-service-provider-or-an-arborist/. Best of luck to you, Steve.
  • Steve Wopschall August 24, 2018 >I live in Redding, CA. I have two trees that I would like to have evaluated by an Arborist to determine their health and how much danger they pose. Both trees would damage my home if they fell. 530-945-6678
  • Thomas Surlas July 14, 2018 >We have two large maples. One on either side of our parking area seperated by a six foot patch of grass and 35- 40 feet of gravel where we park 3 cars. One looks completely normal, but; the other looks like it is dead because of the dry looking barron branches only on the east side of the tree. To cut off the ugly branches would disfigure it. Any suggestions?
  • The Tree Doctor May 7, 2018 >Hi Gwen, It would be tough to make an accurate diagnosis with the information provided. This will likely require a site inspection to determine what may be happening. I suggest you contact a certified arborist in your area to come out and take a look. He or she should be able to provide some guidance in terms of causes, as well as possible treatment options. Unfortunately, Davey doesn’t service your area based on the zip code provided. Here is a resource that we hope can aid you in your search: http://www.davey.com/arborist-advice/articles/hiring-a-tree-service-provider-or-an-arborist/. Here if you have any more questions, Gwen.
  • Gwen Hammonds May 6, 2018 >My maple and oak trees are dying . I have lost 4 large oak trees, 2 maple tress and now my formosa is bare, no leaves in May 2018 in NC. I did notice some signs of insects, bark peeling and leave appear as if they are burned. Can I treat this or will I loose all my other trees?
  • The Tree Doctor April 30, 2018 >Hi Richard, The heat from the flames likely killed the cambium layer just under the bark. This thin cell layer generates the new tissues that form the new growth ring each spring. The extent of the damage will depend on how wide/long an area of the cambium was damaged. Where the cambium is still alive at the margins of the wound, new wood will be able to form as the tree attempts to seal off the damaged area. The loose bark over the dead area can be carefully trimmed back to live wood to assess the amount of damage caused by the fire and/or to clean up the wound. I suggest you contact a Certified Arborist in your area to take a look at your tree if you do not feel comfortable with trimming back the wood yourself. Unfortunately, Davey does not service your area based on the zip code that was provided. Here is a resource to help you on your search for a certified arborist: http://www.davey.com/arborist-advice/articles/hiring-a-tree-service-provider-or-an-arborist/. Good luck! Here if you have any questions, Richard.
Add a comment:
Related Blog Posts

Request a consultation

  • How would you like to be contacted?
*Please fill out all required fields.