Plant(s) of the Month: Fall Foliage Part 2 of 2

By on January 2, 2011.

To follow up on the previous post here are some hues of red from our native landscapes.

Reds: Purples: Browns

Pyrus sp. – The ‘Bradford’ Callery Pear, is an exotic, naturalized species in zones 5-9. Very popular in the last few decades, almost becoming overplanted by many accounts.  Habit is pyramidal to oval and fast growing to 30-50 ft. In age, trunk splits kill off mature trees and can be large downside.

The leaves exhibited spectacular colors ranging from bright yellow to persimmon orange and flame red. Good length from November into a colorful December.


UF Campus Dec. 2010

Acer sp. –  Maples of all sorts are well known for splendid autumn color.  Trident maples, Sugar Maples, Florida Maples, Red Maples, and Japanese Maples all flourish in lowlands or fertile organic soils. More details in an earlier post on Acer rubrum.

Quercus sp. – Mainly pertaining to the Shumard Oak, Quercus shumardii, but also its allies in the red oak family, the Turkey oak, Scarlett Oak, Nuttall Oak, and Pin Oak which all have similar color and leaf shape.

Native to alluvial wet soils but a great urban landscape tree with good drought tolerance and root restraint from cracking concrete.

Leafs being highly lobate, usually 7 lobes, and alternately arranged. Trunk gray-brown, mostly pyramidal shape to 60’. Color a purple russett – red in a good fall season in Gainesville.

DSC01746

Liquidambar Styraciflua – The Sweet Gum is native along the east coast to the deep south and the Miss. basin. Rather fast growth reaching 60’, 100’ in the wild. Pyramidal and neat in youth and developing a soaring open, round crown in maturity.

Sweetgum leafs are star shaped with spiny globe fruit. Bradford pear leaf in center.

Fruit can be bothersome to bare feet, but tolerable in my opinion, sort of a keepsake if you will.

Leaves are star shaped and 5 lobed. Color has great variation, mostly yellowish-purple for 2-3 months. Quite abundant and even weedy on disturbed soils in the soil. Best suited to deep, wet clayey soils. Roots are adventitious, meaning they sprout or sucker from  roots that can develop into a new tree.

Taxodium distichum – The stately Bald Cypress is well known for its many resources and characteristics. Here its rich umber-reddish color found in drain fields, swamps, and ponds throughout the SE gives another reason to add this plant to your canvas. From zones 4-11 it can reach 100’ in heights and becomes truly prehistoric. The species builds domes of monocultured stands in swamps and wetlands in the wild.



James Wheeler is a student of Landscape Architecture and Botany at the University of Florida and a contributing writer to Landscape Invocation.

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