For The Answer
Weekly Express-News Article
By Calvin R. Finch, PhD, SAWS Water Resources Director, and Horticulturist
It won’t be long before we start seeing film clips and
photos of autumn color in
If it is a larger tree that you want to consider, Texas
Red Oak (also called Spanish Oak) is the best choice. This is a very fast growing shade tree, but
it is also a high quality tree. High
quality means it is long lived and is not prone to breakage or disease.
Red oaks are susceptible to oak wilt, but even in the worst case only three or four percent contract the disease. To prevent oak wilt, paint all wounds immediately after they are made, especially in parts of the year when temperatures are mild. Red oak foliage is red in the fall before the leaves drop. The intensity of the color is determined by the genetics of the individual tree and the weather. The best color seems to occur when the spring had adequate rain, the late summer is dry, and when cool night time temperatures are matched with warm daytime temperatures.
Chinese pistache has good fall color. Of all the trees described it probably has the most variation in the autumn color. Most become a flat red color, but others will show orange or even yellow. The same tree can vary in foliage color from year to year based on the weather.
Chinese pistache is a fast growing tree in the league
Chinkapin oak grows moderately fast and has yellow fall
color. The species is more upright than
Texas Red Oak and therefore less wide. It is just as tall as
Most of us think of summer blooms when we think of crepe myrtle. We should also think of autumn color and decorative bark. Many of the crepe myrtles have good red, orange or yellow leaf color beginning in October or November. Your favorite nursery probably has a list posted that describes the ultimate size, flower color, leaf color, and bark characteristics of many of the crepe myrtle varieties on plantanswers.com.
Chinese tallow does not rate high in very many tree categories, but it has attractive foliage color. In the spring, the leaves are light green and in the fall it makes a good show with red orange bronzy foliage. Chinese tallow will sometimes reach 30 feet tall and just as wide. Now the bad news, Chinese tallow is a short-lived tree being susceptible to cold and sometimes drought. It also is a notorious reseeding species. The white seeds are carried by birds to fence rows and they also sprout in the lawn around the tree. Limit your Chinese tallow planting to one or two trees and only if you are desperate for good autumn color.
Here are other shrubs and trees to consider for fall color. The list was assembled by Mark Peterson, SAWS’ Conservation Horticulturist.
Rusty blackhaw (Viburnum rufidulum)
Bigtooth maple (Acer grandidentatum)
Blackjack oak (Q. marilandica)
Blanco crabapple (Malus ioensis)
Escarpment black cherry (Prunus serotina var eximia)
Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) – nonnative
Mexican buckeye (Ugandia speciosa)
Western soapberry (Sapindus drummondi)
Fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica)
Shining sumac (Rhus copallina)
Flameleaf sumac (Rhus lanceolata)
American smoketree (Cotinus obovatus)