By Nancy Penrose

With Autumn finally here, it’s time to celebrate one of the things that makes this season great: the Autumn trees. The shower of reds, oranges and yellows in the leaves change the landscape completely. Fall’s tree colors are something we look forward to every year, the effect it has on the scenery is really special. You should see the Big Trees Inc nursery this time of year!

To commemorate the season we’d like to share some of our picks for the best Autumn trees. Limiting this list to just 10 wasn’t easy with so many amazing and popular trees in different areas. But here is our short list of the top picks for fall:

1. Japanese Maple

The Japanese Maple is an almost exotic specimen which readily finds it home here in the Pacific Northwest. It is generally grown for its interesting shape and attractive foliage throughout the year, but it has striking fall coloration as well. This makes a very distinct and impressive addition to a yard.

2. Red Maple

There are so many beautiful Red Maples which really make this season special, it is impossible to list them all. The Red Sunset Maple is one of the most reliable trees for fall color, turning a brilliant orange-red to deep red in early fall. The Autumn Blaze Maple has brilliant red color, and is one of the first trees to go into fall color yet one of the longest to hold its fall colors. This is one of the great staples of the season.

3. Ginkgo

The Ginkgo is a regular Fall favorite, and for very good reason. Undoubtedly one of the most distinct and beautiful deciduous trees, this tree showcases a lovely yellow foliage in the fall. It is also possibly the oldest tree on earth, with fossils of the Ginkgo tree dating over 200 million years old.

4. Red Oak

The ‘Red’ Oak tree becomes a tall, significant deciduous tree with green leaves.  It likes well-draining soils but can moderately tolerate damp soils as well.  It develops into a very large shade tree with red fall color.

The Red Oak is a majestic tree which can grow to very large sizes (can get over 100 feet tall). Its distinct bright red leaves are stunning in the fall, particularly popular in the Eastern US.

5. Dogwood

Cornus florida, commonly known as flowering dogwood, is a small deciduous tree that typically grows 15-30’ tall with a low-branching, broadly-pyramidal but somewhat flat-topped habit. It arguably may be the most beautiful of the native American flowering trees. It is native from Maine to southern Ontario to Illinois to Kansas, south to Florida, Texas and Mexico. It is the state tree of Missouri and Virginia. It blooms in early spring (April) shortly after, but usually overlapping, the bloom period of the redbuds.

Both the Dogwood and the Flowering Dogwood make for really stunning trees in the fall. From pink to snowy white, the leaves of the Dogwoods really stand out in the fall among the traditional yellow-red. A beautiful addition to a yard or garden, a landscape will definitely become the center of attention with this tree.

6. Sweetgum

The Sweetgum progresses through a variety of fall colors. The distinct five-lobed star shaped leaves change from yellow to orange and red to purple in fall. It is a dependable tree for a good fall color show. Unlike maples, the Sweetgum’s fall color will not be uniform over the canopy. This gives it a unique fall color each year.

7. Quaking Aspen

The ‘Quaking Aspen’ tree is admired for its rounded, wind blown leaves and the white tones of their trunks, often planted in groves.  The trees have tall trunks, up to 80 feet tall, with smooth pale bark, scarred with black. The glossy green leaves, dull beneath, become golden to yellow, rarely red, in autumn.  These trees grow in moist to damp conditions that are well draining, and can spread and send up new trees through their root systems.

The Quaking Aspen, common in colder areas of North America, is a beautiful tree with distinctive white bark and golden yellow leaves. Clusters of Aspens together add a splash of color to autumn that are a sight to behold.

8. Katsura

The Katsura tree is grown as both a single stemmed or multi-stemmed tree. It has rounded heart shaped leaves that emerge in spring with a red to purple tint. As the leaves mature they turn a slightly bluish green. The Katsura has yellow fall color and they are known for the sweet sugary scent they emit as fall arrives.

9. Bloodgood

Slender airy tree well suited for use as a patio or small lawn tree. It has attractive burgundy red foliage turning brilliant scarlet in the fall.

10. Vanessa
Parrotia persica ‘Vanessa’

The Persian Ironwood ‘Vanessa’ tree is more of a columnar of the Persian Ironwood tree, and provides interest to gardens with its slightly kinked branches and strong structural presence.  With small red flowers in the spring, and becoming a small to medium height deciduous tree with shiny leaves, the ‘Vanessa’ Persian Ironwood tree can be useful in somewhat more slender, well-draining  environments.

With so many beautiful trees it really is hard to choose the best. If we missed your favorite, write to us at and tell us about it!

In the end the really great thing about autumn is the pure variety of trees around us. It makes for quite a show that mother nature rolls out every year. At Big Trees Inc, we couldn’t think of any better show around.