10 favorites for fall color list 2012

toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)October 21, 2012

As another fall is sneaking by us I'm thinking about the most impressive trees I have seen. Almost in order are:

Fraxinus americana - White ash. Don't plant one, EAB is doing to them what Chestnut blight did to the chestnuts, but boy is it a shame.

Acer saccharum - Sugar maple. Multi faceted natural color, good form and long lived.

Cornus florida - Native dogwood. A great long flower show in your choice of two colors and a month long fall color show with small red berries! If you have some protection from pure sun a great choice. Consider Cornus kousa if dogwood diseases are prevalent in your area.

Liquidambar styraciflua - Sweetgum. One of the few rivals to sugar maples for complex fall color in a large tree. Plant it where the spiny balls are not a problem and you will be rewarded.

Acer rubrum 'Franksred'(Red Sunset�) - Red maple. Everyone has their own patented version of a red maple. This one gets my attention the most for some reason. The species is highly variable so a cultivar or at least selection in the fall is mandatory if fall color is a concern. The species tolerates wet sites.

Quercus coccinea - Scarlet oak. A good sized oak for most properties and not an extremely slow grower. While some patented maples in particular can be almost over the top in fall color the oaks maintain their dignity.

Quercus alba - White oak. Plant it if you have the room! Folks generations from now will notice.

Oxydendrum arboreum - Sourwood. Neon red with interesting form, flowers and fruit. A bit picky on soil type and maybe slower growing than most folks prefer?

Nyssa sylvatica - Black gum. Known under a different name in every zip code Nyssa is a polite medium sized tree with reliable red fall color. The red is mixed in with the green foliage at first. Has been a difficult transplant for me.

Metasequoia glyptostroboides - Dawn redwood. I think this is the only import on my list but in the epoch type time scale could be considered a native I suppose. Plant Taxodium distichum as a native alternative. Dawn redwood is a pleasing orange/peach color for me not found elsewhere. Can be limbed up or left growing "christmas tree" style depending on your tastes in trunks.

Lord, who did I miss, no Acer japonicums or a dozen other Asian maples which can look great in fall. I'm still deciding but hopeful on the tree forms of Amelanchier (serviceberry). My small one seems promising. I'm sure there are others maybe even in my yard I have forgotten.

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You need Hickory (Carya) for yellows in the South.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 2:26PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

I need yellows in general! Whats the best Locust?

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 2:35PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Nice mix for sure. Personally I've never seen reliable color on Sweetgum and Florida dogwood. Some reason Sweetgum rarely gets great fall color around here and its more commonly purple.

Stewartia pseudocamellia, Ginkgo, Smoketree, Paperbark maple, Varigated Kousa dogwood are several others that have superior color in my opinion.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 4:17PM
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Toronado, My trees are not all turning yet but my best yellow so far is my American Beech. The neighbors Sugar maple is bright yellow. Tulip tree is yellow in the woods here. I am waiting to see what Chestnut oak is going to do yet. My Pin oaks and Beech are the only fall colors here in my yard as of yet.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 8:26PM
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picea(6A Cinci- Oh)

My Korean Stewartia has the best fall color on a consistent basis. Sassafras, Nyssa Sylvatica and Acer Japonicum also have great fall color. The local kings of color though have to be sugar maples.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 10:06PM
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How about Katsuras???

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 11:57PM
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viburnumvalley(z5/6 KY)

Sassafras and Yellow Buckeye should be must-haves on that list for the St. Louis area - as well as the rest of the Ohio River valley region.

Don't leave out more modest size trees like Viburnum rufidulum, either.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 12:17AM
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jqpublic(7b/8a Wake County NC)

Liriodendron tulipifera for solid yellow. Stunning when coming into the fall without a drought!

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 4:11AM
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These lists really have to be regional and perhaps even sub-regional. Liriodendron is pretty much a dud in Georgia when it comes to fall color. Leaves drop early, most of them turn a spotty half yellow, half brown. I would never plant it for fall color.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 12:38PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

Wow, nobody has Ginkgo? Don't make me post pictures to this thread.... ;-)

Oh, and there are some exceptional yellow ash as well. Acer palmatum 'Bihou', but that's kinda cheating.


    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 2:07PM
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beng(z6 western MD)

Never get much color here in a frost hollow, but sourwood still manages to turn florescent pink-red -- best in the yard. Dawn redwood is second.

Some stunning colors on the slopes around here right now. Tuliptrees and hickories are luminous golden candles & some red maples pure red. Sassafras copses along the highway are florescent red-orange. Better than avg year.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 6:14PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

ark, you must have missed my post!

Esh, why do you think the Tulip Tree drops early in your area?
Does it just not get cold enough? Its one of the few trees here that is hanging on late.

Apparently the drought really did ravage this area. We are now about 99% LEAFLESS. My yard, lol, is just about past peak.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 7:20PM
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I don't know - maybe the late summer heat and dryness in general beat them up. They are consistently bad, not just this year but every year. In fact, I thought they were that way for everyone until someone posted a great picture several years ago from elsewhere in the country.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 7:36PM
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jimbobfeeny(5a IN)

I've got a bitternut hickory in the backyard (Probably at least 60 or 70 years old) that has a bright, golden yellow right now!

Yellow birch is usually an outstanding golden color - looks great with spruces up in the Southern Appalachians!

Allegheny serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis) usually turns really nice.

Some sugar maples around here get a pure, sunlight yellow that is hard to beat.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 8:20PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

Nope, didn't miss your post, I missed your ginkgo in the post.

Sorry about that.

BTW, I have seen native Persimmon with some of the brightest yellow you have ever seen this year.


    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 9:34PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

I forgot to add. We are already past peak color here. Had an early freeze, followed by 80 degrees, followed by days of very dry high wind. Pretty much screwed up the color of doing anything exceptional. Won't be as good as last year, but better than 2009/2010. I will be posting pics in the not so distant future. Been collecting them, but not posting as of yet.


    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 9:38PM
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Southern California is not known for spectacular fall color, though the inland area can get sufficient chill for some trees to put on a show.

Gingko turns a bright clear yellow.

Sweetgum turns red, orsnge, yellow and deep purple.

Sycamores or Planes tend to be rusty brown but when well watered the leaves gradully turn chartruese to gold to orange before bright rust- not bad for a tree that is described as having insignificant fall color.One in my yard was very striking against a background of evergreens.

Crape Myrtle is best known for it's flowers in the the dog days of summer but in my town they turn fluorescent shades of red, scarlet and orange. I have a Muskogee that turns a fiery red.

Chinese Pistache goes through yellow, gold and orange.

In areas that do not get too hot and dry, Japanese Maples color up in oranges and reds.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 2:47AM
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jqpublic(7b/8a Wake County NC)

Crape myrtles get great color out here. Yellows to oranges and reds. Real beautiful!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 11:51PM
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Aspen gives the best color around here, a very bright yellow with a hint of red. They do almost look fluorescent when the sun shines at them. Norway maple has about the same brilliant yellow color this year, but they can be quite red other years. Beech leafs can be glowing orange, but only for a short time before they turn brown.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 6:52PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

I like the Japanese Maples in my area.


    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 11:59PM
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This has been a terrific year for fall foliage in our area despite the summer heat and drought. Top trees at our place have been sweet gum, dawn redwood, maple and American smoketree.

Weirdly, one of our Parrotias turned muted but still nice shades of red and purple, while the same exact cultivar "Vanessa" in the back yard was solid yellow (like ).

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 12:49PM
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Lots of nice trees listed in previous responses. How about these 13 trees and shrubs:

Red maple
Sugar maple
Japanese maple
Korean spice viburnum
Whitespire Birch
Dancing Peacock full moon maple - Acer japonicum 'Acontifolium'
Green cascade full moon maple - Acer japonicum 'Green cascade'
Ornamental Pear
Burning Bush
Downy Serviceberry
Oakleaf hydrangea
Dwarf fothergilla
Common witchhazel

Here is a link that might be useful: Plants for fall color part 1

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 10:33PM
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These are my favorite for fall color in MD:


black gum


paw paw

mixture of colors-

sweet gum
sugar maple

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 11:00PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

We have a lot of (planted) A. saccharums around here in my neighborhood. Most turn color early to midseasonish, nice red-orange outside and orange-yellow to yellow on the inside branches. Most of these are street trees or near the street, and as a result, never look 100% healthy in the summer for the most part.

There is one tree, however, that bucks the trend - it's a MASSIVE tree, about 65+ feet tall, probably 40 feet wide, I'd guess 36" or more dbh, very majestic, and has about a picture-perfect form for a Sugar Maple.

It also stays deep green until Nov. 1 every year. Then, instead of orange, it turns a beautiful golden yellow, without a hint of orange or red. It does this every year.

I'm guessing a different seed source or something about the soil it's in. Or, the others are cultivars and this might be a seed-grown, as it's much older (probably >50 years old if I had to guess) than the others.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 5:44PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

Hair, it sounds like a Norway Maple. The leaves are VERY similar.


    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 6:40PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Its definitely NOT a Norway. The samaras are like any other sugar maple, not the larger, nearly horizontal Norway samaras.

I guess it COULD be a black maple, but I never could tell black from sugar.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 10:43PM
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