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The 12 Best Trees for Autumn Colour

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There’s something truly spectacular about trees in autumn when their foliage produces magical hues of reds, oranges and yellows. Some trees will be bolder in colour than others during the autumn months, so if you’re looking for trees that will provide some beautiful colour, there are some tree varieties you may be more inclined to choose for your own garden. For stunning trees and beautiful foliage this autumn, be sure to choose some of these tree types.

1. Claret Ash

This tall tree variety grows to approximately 12 metres in height and has glassy green leaves that turn a brilliant deep purple during the autumn months. Between Sydney and Perth, these trees grow rather well, especially throughout cooler areas and mountainous regions. Suitable for larger gardens, the Claret Ash has been a popular landscape tree in Australia for some time.

2. Maple

One of the most popular choices when thinking of trees full of colour in the autumn is the maple tree. A small tree from Japan, it grows at a slow rate to approximately five metres in height. The leaves of this tree will darken as they mature, turning a deep crimson red through the autumn months. These trees grow well in many areas around Australia, but they are best in southern, mountainous zones and Tasmania.

3. Ginkgo


In the cool elevated areas of Perth, mountain areas, Sydney, Hobart, Adelaide and Melbourne is where Ginkgos grow at their best. Their 2-lobed leaves turn buttercup yellow in autumn before falling, and this long-living tree grows up to 25m in height. Ginkgos are stunning specimen tree for large parks and gardens, especially due to their spectacular autumn foliage.

4. Liquidambar


If you’re looking for a tall, fast-growing variety, Liquidambar is a good choice. Reaching up to 30 metres in height, the foliage of this tree can vary from scarlet and deep purples to orange and bright yellow. There are many new varieties such as “Gold Dust”, “Parasol”, “Gumball” and “Rotundiloba”, however it’s the Liquidambar styraciflua that produces the most impressive autumn foliage. The genus name means liquid amber, referring to the resin released by the winter buds.

5. Chinese Tallow Tree


For the warmer areas of Australia, the Chinese Tallow Tree is one of the better options. Growing between eight and ten metres, autumn sees the leaves of this tree turn crimson, yellow, orange and even ruby-red. The Chinese Tallow was originally introduced to Australia as an ornamental tree due to its beautiful coloured foliage, however it has since become an environmental weed of native vegetation areas.

6. Tupelo


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For a tree that has some striking contrasting colours, the Tupelo variety is a great choice. Dark stems and branches look amazing against the foliage of yellow, crimson, red and bright orange leaves. This tree grows well in cool elevated areas, mountain regions, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide, Perth and Sydney.

7. Manchurian Pears


Sometimes, you want the coloured leaves to stick around for as long as possible. The Manchurian pears hold their autumn coloured leaves for longer than other tree varieties and can have stunning colours right up until Spring. Some cultivars to look out for include “Aristocrat”, “Chanticleer” and “Capital”.

8. Spindle Bush


If you’re looking for brightly coloured foliage but do not want to deal with great, tall trees and prefer the colours to be in a bush or hedge, the Spindle Bush is likely to be the best option for you. You can achieve stunning deep red foliage in your garden at a lowered height than some of the trees mentioned previously. In order for it to grow well, avoid over watering the soil.

9. Hawthorn


For deep red foliage along the coastal regions of northern New South Wales, the Hawthorn is a wonderful shrub that can grow up to 8 metres in height. Prickly with simple white flowers in spring, the red leaves of autumn are a beautiful sight to be seen. Occasionally, there can be red fruit that persist after the tree loses its leaves. The Hawthorn does best in full sun with deep loam soil.

10. Chinese Pistachio


This fast-growing tree is a drought-tolerant breed that is common along the northern coast of New South Wales. The leaves will vary in colour in autumn from bright orange to yellow and scarlet. The Chinese Pistachio provides great shade and grows particularly well in full sun conditions.

11. Crabapple



Traditionally grown to improve apple pollination, the Crabapple has lovely white spring flowers and edible fruits. The decorative mini-apples are a nice addition, but their autumn foliage is a gorgeous golden colour. Inland along the Great Dividing Range and moving north to Queensland’s Darling Downs, this tree is a wonderful addition to many gardens.

12. Flowering Cherry


With a number of cultivars, including the weeping and pendulous forms, the Flowering Cherry trees are typically planted for their stunning Spring blooms. However, in the cooler climates, the foliage will turn scarlet, vivid yellow and orange in the autumn months.

Whether you’re in a cooler, more southern parts of Australia, or even in warmer climates, there are a number of different tree and shrub varieties that can provide some excellent coloured foliage in the autumn months. It’s also important to remember that it’s not all about foliage. There are a number of wonderful trees and plants that flower in the autumn’s cooler months, which may be a great option if you are lacking room for a large tree or just want to add a splash of colour to your garden.

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