A small, deciduous, oval to oval-rounded tree with slender upright branching. It typically matures at 40 feet tall. The bark on the trunk and limbs is extremely ornamental because it peels into large curls which remain on the tree rather than falling to the ground, often in attractive contrast to the tan to rose-brown inner bark.
It is particularly noted for its exfoliating copper orange to cinnamon reddish/brown bark and its showy orange to red fall color. Leaves are green above, but frosty blue-green to gray-green with fine hairs beneath. Fall color varies, typically ranging from showy shades of orange and red to less spectacular shades of reddish-green to bronze green. Yellowish flowers bloom in April-early May in clusters up to 1 inch on pendulous downy stalks. Flowers give way to winged samaras with unusually large seeds.