We couldn’t decide if this topic was better suited to our ‘Timely Tree Tips’ series or our ‘A Tree to Try’ articles, so we mashed the two together in this edition of Tree Link. ‘Part 2’ of this article will be featured in the October edition of Tree Link.

In the spirit of the coming fall season we’ve asked DNR Urban Forestry staff and members of our Washington Community Forestry Council to share some of their favorite ‘urban’ trees for fall color, in their own words.

The following trees may be among the most stunning for their colors, but each tree has unique characteristics that should be carefully considered before selecting a planting location. Remember, always plant the right tree in the right place.

And now, the trees…

1. Persian Ironwood (Parrotia persica)

“I love the variety of its foliage colors in the fall, a shifting palette that progresses across the autumn hues. I also like the form. Many urban trees are selected for being tame and predictable; I enjoy the unruly branching of older varieties, sort of like a canopy with a cowlick.” ~ submitted by Dr. Kathleen Wolf, University of Washington

Parrotia persica. Photo by Trees of Santa Cruz County

2. Frontier Elm (Ulmus ‘Frontier’)

“While other trees “flame-on” in fall, and a few give us the Spanish-doubloon gold that’s so brilliant against the deep blue skies of fall, only a few provide a deep, rich red. One of those is Frontier elm, an elm hybrid resistant to common elm diseases including Dutch elm disease. Its small leaves are a dark cooling green in summer, becoming a lovely Chinese-lacquer-red in fall, an unusual fall coloration for an elm.” ~ submitted by Micki McNaughton, DNR Urban Forestry Program

A beautiful Frontier elm-lined street. Photo by J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co.

3. October Glory Red Maple (Acer rubrum, ‘October Glory’

“There’s something about October Glory maple at its peak of color that takes my breath away! In a perfect moment the leaves will glow a neon red-pink-orange, if that’s even a color. That burst of color is spectacular but short-lived, as if its nature’s way of burning color into our brains to get us through the browns and whites of winter.” ~ submitted by Paula Dinius, WSU Chelan County Extension

October Glory red maple. Photo by Plants for Dallas.

4. Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua

“This tree has brilliant fall color that can range from a gold to deep burgundy. My favorite sweetgum tree is located outside of the learning center at Finch Arboretum in Spokane.” ~ Submitted by Garth Davis, Spokane Conservation District

American sweetgum. Photo from Pinterest

5. Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides

“I love the surprise each year when a Dawn redwood’s foliage begins to change. Observers may expect the beautiful, soft, deep green needles of this conifer to remain intact throughout the winter, but dawn redwood is in fact a deciduous tree that sheds its needles each autumn. Fall colors range from orange to gold to russet-red before needles drift softly to the ground, leaving intact a lovely winter silhouette.” ~ submitted by Linden Lampman, DNR Urban Forestry Program

Dawn redwood. Photo from Pinterest

6. Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa)

“I can’t resist dogwood, particularly kousa. I love the nuance of fall color, a kaleidoscope that is never quite the same year after year.” ~ submitted by Angel Spell, City of Spokane

Kousa dogwood. Photo by Steve Foltz

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