Our 8 Favorite Native Trees for Fall Foliage

Fall is one of the most attractive seasons for native trees in the Virginia area with so many different species that add color and intrigue to gardens and yards. From black gums to oaks and beech trees, there are plenty of native, beautiful plants to choose from to add to the landscape. Here are some of our favorites.

Sourwood (Oxydendron arboreum)

These native trees turn a very bright red when autumn begins. They feature fragrant, creamy white bell-shaped flowers that resemble “skeleton fingers” at the end of its branches.  Sourwoods are very attractive to bees as they congregate and make honey from the tree. 

Blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica)

A forest giant, this tree has the hardest wood of any other tree in our native forests. Also known as Tupelo, black gums turn a crimson red in the fall. In rainy conditions, the bark turns a dark black, which serves as a stark contrast to the fiery red fall leaves. This tree is indestructible, its trunk is as strong and firm as concrete.

One of our favorite cultivars is ‘Wildfire’.

Viburnum (Viburnun nudum)

Even though viburnums are primarily considered a shrub, removing the bottom leaves and branches will give it more of a tree-looking feel. With its smaller size, it can be a great solution if you are looking to fill a small space in your landscape. Planting Winterthur and Brandywine viburnums together will produce dark burgundy colored leaves along with beautiful berries that turn from white to pink and finally to deep blue.

Two of our favorite cultivars of Viburnum nudum are ‘Winterthur’ and ‘Brandywine’

Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

Red Maple trees are known for not only their red fall color, but also for their very early clusters of deep-red, tulip-shaped, small red flowers. In the garden, their colorful leaves will be the first sign that Spring is coming. The “Sunset” variety grows relatively fast with an attractive flare of roots that build out on the surface of the ground.

Our favorite cultivar of red maple is ‘Sunset’

Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)

This native maple tree is perfect for fall as its foliage turns bright orange once autumn comes around. It has a rounded, bushy appearance and can reach nearly 80 feet in the garden. 

American Beech (Fagus grandifolia)

This native tree turns from bright yellow to orange and finally to brown in the fall. An interesting aspect to the American beech is that its leaves last all the way until Spring time and it also features an attractive white bark. It grows very slowly and benefits from shade conditions. 

Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina)

These trees are fascinating as they grow brilliant red upright clusters of red blooms on stems with greenery that fans out and turns red. One of the biggest draws of the staghorn sumac is that it attracts pollinators.

Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra)

This Oak variety turns a subtle shade of burnt red in the fall, which provides an  attractive and interesting backdrop in forests and backyards. It has a rounded growth pattern and is particularly fast-growing.