Many trees and shrubs are very attractive in autumn by reason of the rich fall colors the leaves assume just before they fall. This is particularly so in eastern North America. When the trees and shrubs are selected for park and garden planting, as much thought may well be given to their autumn colors, as well as to their spring flowers. The trees, shrubs, and vines are divided into groups. This is a partial list of some of the older ones that you may be familiar with already. I have put in the common and botanical name of each variety so that it may be easier to locate a variety.
*If you are interested in learning exactly how leaves change colors be sure to look up: Why Do Trees Turn Colors in Autumn?
Trees with Brilliant Color
The Red Maple, Acer rubrum, often begins to change color before summer is really finished. Individual trees will vary in shades of purple, yellow, orange, crimson and scarlet. The Sugar Maple, A. sacharum, is often evem more brilliant, with yellow, orange, and scarlet. A. ginnala turns crimson and orange, A. nikoense is a brilliant red, such as the Japanese Maples.
The Sour Gum, Nyssa sylvatica, and the Sorrel Tree, Oxydendrum arboreum, give attractive effects in red, while the Sweet Gum, Liquidambar styraciflua, and Saasafras, Sassafras albidum, are showy with red and yellow shades. The Parrot Tree, Parrotia persica, often a large bush, is highly colored with yellow, orange, and red shades. The Flowering Dogwood, Cornus florida, ends the season in crimson glory. Of the many Hawthorns, the Washington Thorn, Crataegus Phaenopyrum, cockspur Thorn, C, Crus-galli, and Glossy Thorn, C. Nitida, are conspicuous in fall with their orange and scarlet leaves. The Scarlet Oak, Quercus coccinea, gives the brightes color of the Red Oak, Q. Borealis, which is less brilliant but still very colorful.
Trees That Turn Yellow
The Moosewood, Acer pennsylvanicum, the Norway Maple, A. Platanoides and the Silver Maple, A. Saccharinum, give solid
effects in gold, as also does the Tulip Tree, Liriodendron tulipifera, the Maidenhair Tree, Ginkgo biloba, and the Yellow-wood, Cladrastis lutea.
Birches in general turn yellow, with the Cherry birch, Betula lenta, and the Canoe Birch, B. Papyrifera, especially colorful. Golden Larch, Pseudolarix amabilis, is a lovely sight when the feathery foliage turns bright yellow. The White Ash, Fraxinus americana, is sometimes yellowish, but often the leaves turn chocolate or purplish shades.
Shrubs with Good Autumn Color
The Red Chokeberry, Aronia arbutifolia, makes a good showing with orange and red, unless it has been too dry. Of the
Barberries, the Kansu Barberry, Berberis diaphana, becomes crimson, the Chalkleaf Barberry, B. Dictyophylla, unusual rosy-red and gray, the Korean Barberry, B. Thunbergii, orange and scarlet; and B. Vernae assumes orange tints. All are outstanding varieties.
Sweet Pepper bush, Clethra alnifolia, turns yellow, as does the Cornelian Cherry, Cornus Mas. The American Smoke Tree, Cotinus americanus, has all its decorative value in its brilliant scarlet and orange fall coloring.
Enkianthus campanulatus turns a rich red, and E. Perulatus is orange and red. Forsythia viridissima is worth growing for its deep purple fall coloring. Fothergilla monticola turns orange and red; F. Major, yellow and orange. Franklinia alatamaha, sometimes a small tree, turns crimson. The large, lobed leaves of Hydrangea quercifolia take on deep wine-colored tints. Virginia Willow, Itea virginica, assumes brilliant red coloring. Flame Azalea, Rhododendron calendulaceum (Azalea calendulacea) takes on bright tints of orange and red. The Kaempfer Azalea, R. Obtusum Kaempferi, does the same but is somewhat darker; the Royal Azalea, R. Schlippenbachii, becomes yellow to crimson and R. Vaseyi, purple to crimson.
Several Sumacs also give a brilliant fall coloring, particularly Rhus aromatica, R. copallina, R. Glabra, and R. Typhina. The double-flowered Spiraea prunifolia has bronzy-orange tints and the finer leaved S. Thunbergii is attractive with its orange hues. Satephanandra incsisa produces a pretty effect with its graceful habit and leaves which turn reddish purple. Stewartia korana and S. Ovata are stout shrubs with good orange and red coloring. Syringa oblata dilatata is a Lilac with leaves that color; they turn a winy-red. High-bush Blueberry, Vaccinium corymbosum, is one of the showiest shrubs when its leaves have turned orange and scarlet.
Among Viburnums, the Dockmackie, Viburnum acerifolium, attracts attention only in the fall when its leaves turn a fine reddish-purple. V. lantana, V. Prunifolium, V. Tomentosum.
The native Virginia Creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, is brilliant in fall with its scarlet leaves. Japanese or Boston Ivy, P. Tricuspidata, brightens up many a wall with scarlet leaves. Glory-Vine, Vitis Coignetiae, makes a striking show when its large leaves turn crimson. So too, does the strong growing V. Davidii, which turns brilliant red.
I am sure there are some newer varieties that I have not mentioned. These are some of the older standards that have proven to provide beautiful autumn color in your yard or garden.