By: Teo Spengler
Trees with orange fall foliage bring enchantment to your garden just as the last of the summer flowers are fading. You may not get orange fall color for Halloween, but then again you may, depending on where you live and what trees with orange leaves you select. What trees have orange leaves in fall? Read on for some suggestions.
Autumn tops the list of many gardeners’ favorite seasons. The laborious planting and tending work is done, and you don’t have to expend any effort to enjoy your backyard’s stunning fall foliage. That is, if you selected and planted trees with orange fall foliage.
Not every tree offers flaming foliage in autumn. The best trees with orange leaves are deciduous. Their foliage blazes as they wilt and die during summer’s end. What trees have orange leaves in fall? Many deciduous trees can fit into that category. Some reliably offer orange fall color. Other trees’ leaves may turn orange, red, purple or yellow, or a fiery mix of all these shades.
If you want to plant deciduous trees with reliable orange fall color, consider the smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria). These trees thrive in sunny sites in USDA zones 5-8, offering small yellow blossoms in early summer. In autumn, the leaves blaze orange-red before they fall.
Another good option for trees with orange leaves: Japanese persimmon (Diospyros kaki). You’ll not only get vivid leaves in autumn. The trees also produce dramatic orange fruit that decorate the tree branches like holiday ornaments much of the cold season.
If you haven’t heard of the stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia), it’s time to take a look. It definitely makes the short list of trees with orange fall foliage for USDA zones 5-8. For big gardens only, the stewartia can rise to 70 feet (21 m.) tall. Its attractive, dark green leaves turn orange, yellow and red as winter approaches.
The common name “serviceberry” may call to mind a shrub but, in fact, this small tree (Amelanchier canadensis) shoots up to 20 feet (6 m.) in USDA zones 3-7. You can’t go wrong with serviceberry as trees with orange leaves in autumn—the foliage colors are amazing. But it’s also got lovely white blossoms in spring and great summer fruit.
If you live in a warmer area, you’ll love the garden classic, Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) that thrives in USDA zones 6-9. The lacy leaves glow with fiery fall color, along with many other maple varieties.
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The changing colors of leaves is one of the best parts of fall—but what determines which colors will appear?
Leaves change color as the trees stop making chlorophyll, the sun-absorbing molecule that is vital to photosynthesis and gives them their green hue. As the green pigment of the leaves fades, we begin to see the other pigments present. (You can read more about the science of fall colors here.)
While some of the panoply of fall hues in a forest depends on factors like weather and geography, different tree species tend toward certain colors when their chlorophyll-green leaves are exposed to the shorter days of fall.
Here are 9 species—some well-known, others slightly more obscure to the non-tree nerds among us—to watch out for if you want to see a full rainbow of foliage colors this fall. And if you've got another fall foliage favorite, let us know in the comments!
Colorado’s favorite tree turns a brilliant gold as the weather cools. Genetics play a role in determining when leaves change colors due to the chemical balance within the leaves. Since aspens reproduce by cloning (through a root system that expands underground), you can see which trees are genetically identical—if there are a bunch of bright yellow trees standing out in a forest that’s still largely green, that probably means those trees are all clones.
Also known as the black gum tree, Nyssa sylvatica is one of the first trees to show its fall colors during the year. Before it becomes a solid mass of bright red, its leaves can turn purple, yellow, and orange.
This common tree (whose leaf serves as the Canadian national symbol) turns a host of different colors at the same time. Its leaves turn yellow, orange, red, and every hue in between. The Acer saccharum is native to many parts of the eastern United States and Canada.
The Prunus virginiana starts out the year with green leaves, but by summer they turn purple. Once fall comes, they morph from red to reddish purple, ensuring a broad range of colors throughout the year.
Sassafras albidum , the tree that lends root beer its flavor, makes for a spectacular fall display. Its three-lobed leaves can turn yellow, orange, red, and even a pinkish color in autumn.
Miss the boat on your fall foliage road trip? The Bradford pear, a landscape tree originally native to China and Vietnam, is one of the last trees to change colors in the fall, morphing into a luscious maroon.
Cercidiphyllum japonicum, a flowering tree native to Japan, turns bright yellow and pinkish red during the fall. Moreover, when its leaves finally drop, the tree has a sweet aroma that passersby liken to burnt sugar or cotton candy .
The tall Fagus grandifolia , found in forests throughout eastern North America, features golden brown foliage in the fall, a color offset by its pale white bark.
Image Credit: Dan Mullen via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
is technically more of a bush than a tree (it’s related to honeysuckle), but its fall colors make up for its small stature. Late in the year, its sharp leaves turn pinkish-purple.
Need to know when to go on your next foliage-finding adventure? Make sure to check a foliage prediction map .
All images from iStock unless otherwise noted.
We all know that trees come in different shapes, sizes, and colors, just like fall grasses, shrubs, annuals, and perennials. There are trees and plants for every purpose. However, only some trees have spectacular fall color that we come to anticipate each year.
You don’t want the fastest growing spruce tree for this purpose. You need deciduous trees for fall – the leaves’ fall color is an important consideration. Different trees have different color leaves, so choose the ones with the colors you want.
For example, the Sugar Maple has red to orange leaves in the fall, while the American Sweetgum offers yellow, red, purple, or orange. Another vital consideration when picking out the perfect fall tree is what you are hoping to accomplish by planting it.
Are you only after it for the fall colors? Are you looking for one that also shades or is one of the cold climate trees? Even the best trees for fall have other notable features that make them ideal for your purposes.
Something else to think about is where you are planting your trees, such as how much space is available, how close underground pipes are, how close to the street they will be, etc.
Trees are small when you plant them, so when considering your planting locations, consider their mature size. Most trees reach mature heights and widths in about ten years. If you plant it too near to the house or street, problems may occur.
“Monhud” spirea (Spiraea x bumalda “Monhud”) is a sun-loving deciduous shrub growing between 3 and 4 feet tall in USDA zones 4 through 9. Its leaves emerge with a yellow tint that changes to yellowish green as it matures. In the fall, the foliage becomes a coppery orange color. “Maradco” beauty bush (Kolkwitzia amabilis “Maradco”) is a 6- to 9-foot-tall deciduous shrub growing in USDA zones 4 through 8. Its foliage emerges with an orange coppery hue before changing to a yellowish green in spring and summer, and finally stunning hues of orange in the fall.
Red oaks have the brightest red foliage of all oaks. It is a deep red, not like the flaming scarlet of maples. Some years, depending on the weather, red oak foliage may be more of a reddish-brown.
Location, soil type and weather can affect the foliage color of a species. Black oaks in northern California, for example, are known for their dark red foliage. In southern California the foliage is yellow. The color fades to brown as autumn progresses to winter in both areas.