Woody Plants with Fall Color

Woody Plants with Fall Color
Both trees and shrubs can bring sensational color in the fall. Here are some recommended species.


There are both cultivated and naturalized species. These shrubs bring red colored foliage in the fall. I would rather enjoy the color provided by the natives or naturalized species rather than recommend that gardeners plant certain barberries that might become invasive.

Canada or Allegheny barberry is native to much of the East westward to
Missouri. It is hardy to zone 4.

Japanese barberry has very beautiful scarlet fall color. There are varieties with variegated leaves.


Birches are medium to tall trees. These are hardy in zones 2 through five, depending on the species. Some have a birch scent.

They vary in size from 50 to 90 feet with the hardiness varying as well according to the species. In general, birches provide excellent yellow fall color.

One of the best birches for the East is the river birch. Hardy to zone 4, it grows to 90 feet tall. It often is found along waterways.

Rather short lived, it has attractive, exfoliating bark. A weeping form of the river birch is available.

Birches are usually very adaptable. They can be used as specimen plants. The flowers form cone-like clusters. Generally, these trees do well in moist soils.

Black Tupelo

The black tupelo is an excellent tree for moist soils. This is a 90 foot tall tree. Hardy to zone 4, this native is found in woodlands in the East, particularly near water and wet sites.

The plant is most commonly found in coastal areas. It features graceful horizontal drooping branches. The dense tree is pyramidal.

This can be hard to transplant due to the tap root. The leaves become red to orange in the fall.


The blueberries have red fall color. Although these are grown primarily for the berries, the plants can add interest to the landscape. The hardiness and plant size can vary widely, according to the species or cultivar.

Some of the low growing blueberry plants can be used as ground covers. The plants have attractive bell-like blossoms in spring.

Creeping Mahonia

Only a foot or so tall, this native shrub is found in parts of the West, including California and New Mexico. It can be planted as a ground cover and spreads by stolons.

The flowers form terminal clusters. This is hardy to zone 5. the leaves turn purplish-red in the fall. The small black fruits are covered with a bloom.

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