Top 9 Fall Foilage Trees

Every autumn as the days get shorter trees across the country produce spectacular displays of fall leaf colors.  Adding trees with great fall foliage trees is a great landscape design technique because of the color it adds to your yard.  Here are 9 trees that I thought had great fall color.

  1. Baldcypress
    Not on most people’s top 10 list but the unique combination of being a deciduous conifer creates a majestic orange red color. This tree can be found throughout most of the United States (zones 4 to 10) with the exception being the northern zone 3.
  2. Sugar Maple
    The landscape standout can be seen in all but the warmest places in the United States (zones 3 to 8 ). The leaves of the sugar maple can form a complete color wheel throughout the year, turning several shades of green, then from yellow to orange, and finally to red in the fall. The diversity of this tree makes it impressive all year round but especially in the fall.
  3. Red Maple
    This classic fall tree can either be deep red or yellow. Throughout the year at least a part of this tree is red, making it one of the best named trees. This tree is common throughout most of the United States (zones 3 to 9) and can grow up to 60 feet.
  4. Black Tupelo
    Known for its spectacular fall foliage the Black Tupelo can contain many shades on the same branch. Frequent colors seen on the leaves of this autumn beauty include yellow, orange, bright red, purple, and scarlet. Look for this bird friendly tree throughout most of the United States (zones 4 to 9) with the extreme North and South being the exception.

5. Aspen
Thousands of people make the journey to watch the Aspen turn throughout the Rocky Mountains. The spectacular yellow leaves of the Aspen create a brilliant contrast with surrounding pine trees, making this a fan favorite. Residents living in the South will have to make the journey to see the Aspen change because this tree is typically in zones 1 to 7.

6. Sourwood
The Sourwood is a great year round tree with its white fragrant flowers in early summer. But it is fall leaves that get it on this list. Each autumn the rich green leaves of the Sourwood turn to yellow, red or even purple. Unlike the Aspen, this fall tree prefers the southern states growing in zones 5-9.

7. Sassafras
The brilliant display of fall foliage makes the Sassafras a must have on this list. The native North American tree (zones 4 to 9) changes from bright to medium green in summer to enchanting colors of deep orange, scarlet, purple and yellow in the fall.

8. Sweetgum
Deep, glossy green, star-shaped leaves mark the Sweetgum in the spring and summer. As the days shorten the leaves turn yellow-purple-red. The leaves of the Sweetgum stay on the tree quite late throughout its range (zones 5-9).

9. Japanese Maple
Although it is grown in a more limited range (zone 5 to 8) this short tree or shrub is a great fall choice. The versatile species often has brilliant color throughout the year but as winter approaches, the trees’ reddish-purple leaves create dramatic fall views.
Add a this landscaping tree to your yard today »

What other trees would you add to this list?


Ben is an employee of the Arbor Day Foundation. My favorite types of trees are flowering trees and my favorite tree is the Japanese Red Maple.


  1. I’m looking forward to seeing the beautiful golden bronze fall colors of the American beech in woods of southeastern Pennsylvania in a few weeks. This tree is rarely found planted here in Nebraska.

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