Great Trees for Fall Color

One of the most wonderful things about fall is the spectacular displays of fall leaf color. The vibrant hues of crimson, oranges and yellow foliage along the streets enliven the daily commute. Searching and finding the best fall trees is often a destination trip for many across the country. Here are some of the finest fall trees that you can see almost anywhere.

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Baldcypress 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).

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Sugar Maple This 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.

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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 in height.

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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 exclusion of the extreme North and South.

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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.

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  1. Sourwood The Sourwood is a great year round tree with its white fragrant flowers in early summer. But it is the 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. Check out Sourwood: A Sweet Surprise if you’re considering planting on in your yard.

Sassafras_2-917[1]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.

American-Sweetgum_1-928[1]Sweetgum Deep, glossy green, star-shaped leaves mark the Sweetgum in the spring and summer. As the days shorten the leaves turn yellow to purple tored. The leaves of the Sweetgum stay on the tree quite late in the season throughout its range (zones 5-9).

Japanese-Red-Maple_5-866[1]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.

Whether you’re driving to a destination or driving aimlessly, the selection of fall colors makes the journey an exciting ride. What are some of your favorite fall trees?

Sourwood: A Sweet Surprise

(Oxydendrum arboretum)

What if there were a tree with scented flowers and tart leaves that shaded you from the sun’s heat in the summer and amused you with vibrant foliage in the fall, would you be interested? The sourwood tree does just that. This tree is exclusive to North America and isn’t found on other continents unless planted there. Named after the tangy flavor of its leaves, the sourwood tree is full of wonder. Sourwood blossom

Mountain climbers and hikers quench their thirst by making tea with sourwood leaves, and pioneers used the sap in a mixture for treating fevers. Agonizing from mouth pain? Early settlers chewed the bark as relief from mouth ulcers. Additionally, bees make honey from the nectar of sourwood flowers—rumor has it sourwood honey is among the best quality. Aside from the natural remedies sourwood boasts, this tree is a natural beauty. Check out a few of these tree care tips if you’re considering adding a sourwood for your yard.

Environmental Factors

  • Grows 1-2 feet a year, reaching 25-30 feet at maturity.
  • Although it is native to the south, it will grow in a variety of hardiness zones (5-9).
  • Prefers normal moisture but has some drought tolerance. Grows in acidic, loamy, moist, well-drained and clay soils. Avoid alkaline or compacted soils.
  • Does best in full sun, getting at least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day, but will tolerate partial shade.

Physical Attributes

  • Blooms fragrant, white flowers in late summer (June to early July) that resemble lilies-of-the-valley.
  • Can live up to 200 years if planted at the right site.
  • Bees produce high quality honey from the blossoms of the tree that is said to have a caramel or buttery flavor.
  • Offers vibrant fall color with leaves turning crimson, purplish-red and sometimes yellow. The numerous uses that stem from the sourwood give this tree some merit. Its shorter height make it a great contender to plant in your yard, or in front of a backdrop of taller trees.

Do you have a sourwood? Share a picture below!