October 2, 2017 /
Jona Elwell

Colorful Leaves = Identifiable Trees

With no humidity in sight and temperatures dropping that means one thing: Fall has finally come to the District! Lucky for us fall brings something other than pumpkin flavored everything – foliage! Leaves changing colors and dropping (or not!) makes it even easier to identify trees around you. Take a look at these five (if you’ve already mastered the original five) and see if you can spot these showy trees around the District. A big fan of foliage? Most of these are available for planting through our residential planting programs. Plant one yourself or have us do it – either way you get to enjoy the gorgeous fall colors.

Bald Cypress

With dark, shaggy bark and a grand pyramidal shape, the baldcypress is a tough, urban tree valued by wildlife for its seed. It is called “bald” because it drops its leaves in the fall – uncommon for trees bearing cones. Before dropping its lacy needles, it turns a vibrant russet red color. See if you can spot it!

American Sweetgum

The American sweetgum—with its star-shaped leaves, neatly compact crown, interesting fruit and twigs with unique corky growths called wings—is an attractive shade tree. It puts on quite a show in the fall as the glossy green leaves turn beautiful shades of yellow, orange, red and purple.

Golden Raintree

Golden rain tree is a delightful small tree with wonderful yellow flowers that contribute to its show stopping appearance. Attractive year round, the feathery leaves turn yellow in the fall and are followed by an even more significant characteristic – their seed pods. Appearing on the tree around now, they look like teardrop shaped tomatillos.

Black Tupelo

With small purple fruit, brilliant fall colors and not to mention honey, the black gum aka black tupelo is quite a sight. Keep an eye out for its simple and oval-shaped leaves that turn vibrant red in early autumn, before most other tree species. The fruit also blossoms when the leaves are changing colors, which is another signifier.  

American Linden

The American linden, also commonly known as American basswood, is a tree native to North America. It is mostly known for its small, yellow clusters of flowers that bloom at the tip of its branches – a fragrant attraction for honeybees, eager to extract pollen for their production of sweet honey. It is not just exciting in July though, come fall it turns a showy yellow.


And can’t forget about the Ginkgo tree! With its instantly recognizable fan shaped leaves, look for shocks of yellow!