Why Tree Leaves Commonly Turn Red in the Fall

Autumn is the time of year when trees change colors. Depending on the type of tree, different colors may be predominant. Of the prominent fall colors, red stands among the brightest. At Arbor Pro Tree, we're here to answer some common questions regarding what trees turn red in the fall and why.

Why Do Some Trees Turn Red in The Fall?

Many deciduous trees lose their leaves in autumn to conserve energy during the winter. The leaves and branches provide the tree with all the needed nutrients for the growing season, so without the leaves, the tree does not need to expend energy maintaining its foliage.

When the leaves begin changing to an autumn color and fall off, the tree has finished feeding itself. It is now entering a period of dormancy where it uses stored energy to survive until spring arrives again.

Red autumn leaves result from changes in the leaves' pigments as the days shorten. These pigments are called anthocyanin, which can produce a purple hue in fall leaves. As the days grow shorter, the trees stop producing chlorophyll, the pigment that produces the green hues of the leaves.

What Different Types of Trees Turn Red in The Fall?

Red maple, a variation of the maple tree, is likely the most common answer to what trees turn red in the fall. However, other types of trees that display vivid, colorful leaves include:

  1. Black Cherry
    This common tree turns bright shades of orange and red in the autumn. Its deep red leaves are popular for landscaping and Halloween decorations. The black cherry also has a pleasing aroma, making it an excellent landscape addition.
  2. Sweetgum
    Like the black cherry, sweet gum also changes colors in the fall and produces bright orange and red hues. Many harvest its long, drooping clusters of fruits for making candy and jellies.
  3. Dogwood
    These trees are a favorite in the fall for their brilliant display of bright red flowers. They become even more vibrant when combined with other colorful foliage like goldenrod and ragweed.
  4. Winged Sumac
    These North American native trees turn bright orange-red in the fall and produce large clusters of fruit usually eaten during harvest time. Another type of winged sumac is the European cousin known as staghorn sumac, which has smaller clusters of fruit and a more rounded shape.
  5. Sourwood
    Another species of native tree, sourwood, displays dark red leaves in the fall and has a long, narrow shape with a dense crown.

Professional Tree Care

If you like the color change that autumn brings and want to enjoy these trees for as long as possible, contact us at Arbor Pro Tree. Our certified arborists can ensure your trees remain healthy and beautiful all season.

Once you know what trees turn red in the fall, you can have some fun with your landscaping. For more landscaping tips, here are some trees that can improve your property.

Call our team at (303) 935-0005 to learn more about our services. 

Posted on in Seasonal Tree Care Guide.