Best Trees for Fall Foliage | Blog | Front Range Arborists

Best Trees for Fall Foliage

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” (Albert Camus).

As exciting as it is to see young leaves burst from their buds in the springtime, there is nothing more spectacular than the splendor of fall foliage. It is no wonder people all over the world seek out top destinations for viewing vistas ablaze with autumn’s brilliant oranges, saturated reds, and flaming golds.

Adding a touch of fall grandeur to your own landscape is easy. Factors such as leaf pigments, length of night, and weather will all affect when the leaves will peak and the intensity of the color. But don’t worry, we’ve taken all of those things into consideration when selecting the best trees for fall foliage.

If you are looking for trees that will not only show off in the autumn, but provide beauty, privacy, and other benefits during the spring and summer, here are some varieties to consider.


You may not notice the distinctive, splaying shape of the ginkgo leaves until they transition from green to gold each autumn. And these trees are hearty. They can withstand pollution, heat, cramped spaces, and other urban conditions. Which probably explains how the ginkgo tree has been around so long—about 200 million years.


If the first thing you think of when you hear the word “sumac” is poison sumac, you are not alone. The good news is poison sumac is just one variety, and certainly not the one we are suggesting here. Sumac grows stems of fern-like leaves and can reach heights of up to 30 feet tall. Not only are sumac helpful for erosion control and windbreaks, but their leaves also change from green to gold, to red—often with leaves of all three colors occurring on the same stem as they make the transition. And in the winter, their berries are food sources for robins, bluebirds, and other species.


From a distance, the American sweetgum tree might be admired for its abundant shade and aesthetically pleasing shape that tapers at the top. A closer look reveals its star-shaped leaves, winged bark, and thorny fruit. Its spreading canopy makes it a winner for large spaces, as it can grow to a spread of up to 50 feet. What makes the sweetgum a stunner in the fall are the vibrant shades of yellow, orange, red, and purple.

Black Tupelo

A tried-and-true tree for fall color, the black tupelo is an excellent choice to add to your landscape for many reasons. It provides springtime greenish-white blossoms for the bees and summertime bluish-black fruits that attract birds and other wildlife. During the summer, the black tupelo boasts dark green high-gloss leaves that transition into yellow, orange, bright red, scarlet, and purple during the fall months.  As the bark of the tree matures, it turns dark gray and develops dark grooves. This has been compared to alligator hide. If a a tree deserves recognition as one with great fall foliage, then the black tupelo surely takes it.

Sugar Maple

What would a “best of” list for fall color be without at least one maple tree? The sugar maple is a quintessential beauty. It has been chosen as the state tree by more states than any other tree. Not only does it provide shade with its impressive mature height of up to 75 feet and spread of up to 50 feet, but it also is planted commercially for syrup and lumber and loved for its prominent display of oranges and reds in the autumn.

Red Maple

The red maple has the perfect name because it features its namesake color every season. It buds red in the winter that blooms into ruby in the spring. Red stalks support the green leaves in the summer that turn into burning crimson in the fall. Squirrels and other rodents feed off the fruits and rabbits and deer eat the shoots and leaves.

Shumard Oak

This hearty oak tree is a favorite among homeowners and wildlife, alike. Offering an impressive canopy, the Shumard oak offers significant shade with a spread of up to 60 feet. A stunner in the fall, the leaves burst into brilliant red to red-orange. Every two to four years, it produces acorns that the squirrels, deer, and other birds and small mammals enjoy.


A medium-sized tree, the sourwood is a delight to the senses. During the summer, its white blooms are akin to the fragrant lilies-of-the-valley. The sweet nectar of its flowers attracts bees that produce gourmet honey. Come autumn, dark green leaves come alive into bright crimson and purplish-red hues.

Fall foliage offers a spectacular display you can achieve right at home. If you are considering adding trees to enhance the fall colors in your landscaping, consult the team of professionals at Front Range Arborists. Our certified arborists will help you select the trees that will work best in your environment and provide the fall color you desire.

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