What is that weird bark?
My daughter had a hard time finding it by any description we could come up with. We tried fractured bark, and corrugated bark, fragmented bark and corrupted bark (all good words, but not quite showing up) And then we found the terms winged bark and corky bark.
So - what is this tree?
We were pretty sure it is a winged elm.
We found this website that had great pictures:
We did look up that it does grow in West Tennessee, where we are located. I found some great pictures on another site that show trees of this species in the exact state of 'small pinnate emerging leaves'.
At one point we thought it might be a sweet gum tree, as they have bark like this. There are also a lot of sweet gums in this area, as evidenced by the small spiky ball seed pods they leave on the ground. But the difference that assured us this was something else is that they have 'hand shaped' leaves, with five points. We could tell by carefully examining these emerging leaves that they were pinnate, arrow-shaped or feather-shaped leaves. Each little leaf had a very clear line down the middle and was relatively smooth-edged.