Which trees are best for Autumn colour?

Which trees are best for Autumn colour?

As the leaves begin to change and the air turns crisp, it’s time to start thinking about which trees are best for autumn colour. In this article, we will explore some of the best trees for autumn colour and how to incorporate them into your landscape.

Maple Trees: The Classic Autumn Tree

Maple trees are perhaps the most iconic trees for autumn colour. Their vibrant hues of orange, yellow, and red create a stunning contrast against the autumn sky. Some popular species of maple trees for autumn colour include the Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) and the Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum). The Sugar Maple is native to North America and is known for its brilliant orange and red hues. The Japanese Maple is a smaller, more delicate tree that can display a range of colours from yellow to deep red.

Dogwood Trees: A Unique Autumn Beauty

Dogwood trees are known for their beautiful spring blooms, but they also put on a spectacular autumn display. The Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa) is a popular species for its brilliant red and pink foliage. This tree also produces red berries that add to its autumn charm. The Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) is another species that puts on a stunning display of purples and reds in the autumn.

Birch Trees: A Subtle Beauty

Birch trees may not have the bold colours of other autumn trees, but their subtle yellows and golds create a unique and beautiful display. The Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera) is a popular species for its delicate white bark and yellow autumn leaves. The River Birch (Betula nigra) is another species that displays yellow autumn foliage and attractive bark that peels away in layers.

Oak Trees: A Bold and Lasting Display

Oak trees may not have the same bright colours as other autumn trees, but their deep red and brown hues create a bold and lasting display throughout the season. The Red Oak (Quercus rubra) is a popular species for its vibrant red autumn leaves. The Pin Oak (Quercus palustris) is another species that displays a range of reds and browns in the autumn.

Incorporating Autumn Trees into Your Landscape

When selecting trees for autumn colour, consider the size, shape, and location of the tree in your landscape. Many autumn trees are large and require ample space to grow, so be sure to choose a location that can accommodate the size of the tree. Also consider the shape and form of the tree, as well as its seasonal changes, to ensure it fits in with your overall landscape design.

Guide for Tree Selection
GenusCommon NameHeight (m)Spread (m)Growth RateGarden Size
AcerMaple5-405-25ModerateMedium to Large
AesculusHorse Chestnut15-3010-20FastMedium to Large
AmelanchierServiceberry4-104-8ModerateSmall to Medium
BetulaBirch5-255-20FastSmall to Large
CarpinusHornbeam10-1510-15SlowMedium to Large
CercidiphyllumKatsura10-208-15ModerateMedium to Large
CornusDogwood3-103-10Slow to ModerateSmall to Medium
EuonymusBurning Bush3-53-5SlowSmall to Medium
FagusBeech10-208-15SlowMedium to Large
FraxinusAsh10-2010-15Moderate to FastMedium to Large
GinkgoMaidenhair Tree10-205-8Slow to ModerateMedium to Large
LiquidambarSweetgum15-2510-15FastMedium to Large
LiquidamberAmerican Sweetgum15-2510-15FastMedium to Large
LiriodendronTulip Tree15-2510-15FastMedium to Large
NyssaTupelo6-154-10ModerateSmall to Medium
ParrotiaPersian Ironwood6-106-8Slow to ModerateSmall to Medium
PlatanusPlane Tree15-3010-20FastMedium to Large
PopulusPoplar10-305-15FastMedium to Large
PrunusCherry5-153-10Moderate to FastSmall to Medium
PyrusPear5-125-8ModerateSmall to Medium
QuercusOak10-2510-25Slow to ModerateMedium to Large
SorbusRowan5-105-8ModerateSmall to Medium
TiliaLinden15-2510-20ModerateMedium to Large
UlmusElm10-3010-20ModerateMedium to Large
ZelkovaJapanese Zelkova10-208-15ModerateMedium to Large
Interesting Facts About Autumn Trees:
  1. The Sugar Maple is the national tree of Canada and features prominently on the country’s flag.
  2. Birch bark was historically used by indigenous peoples for making canoes, baskets, and other items.
  3. Oak trees can live for hundreds of years and provide valuable habitat for wildlife, such as birds and squirrels.
Links for Further Reading:
  1. Best Trees for Fall Color by The Spruce: https://www.thespruce.com/best-trees-for-fall-color-3269731
  2. Autumn Trees for Your Landscape by Better Homes & Gardens: https://www.bhg.com/gardening/trees-shrubs-vines/trees/best-autumn-trees/
  3. The Science Behind Autumn Leaves by National Geographic: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/09/the-science-behind-fall-color/
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