University of Tennessee
Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
Oak Ridge Forest Cumberland Forest Highland Rim Forest Arboretum

Fall Color Guide

Orange Leaves

BeechAmerican Beech: Although initially turning yellow, the leaves pale to light orange and remain on the tree through the winter. Read more about American Beech >>
HornbeamAmerican Hornbeam: Nicknamed "beech" because of the leaf similarity, this tree is actually in the birch family. Its name "horn" (tough) and "beam" (strong) describes the tree's hard wood. Read more about American Hornbeam >>
MapleSilver Maple: Easily recognized in the summer by the silvery underside color, the leaves turn yellowish-orange in the fall.
White OakWhite Oak: A widespreading tree - both in its branches and range throughout the US. Read more about White Oak >>
SassafrasSassafras: Look for this tree in all color ranges! Also, look for at least two different leaf shapes. The roots and root bark are used to flavor root beer and sassafras tea. Read more about Sassafras >>

Red Leaves

Red MapleRed Maple: Sometimes called "Scarlet Maple", it is truly a "red" tree. Its spring flowers are even red! Read more about red maple >>
Sugar MapleSugar Maple: One of the most spectacular autumn trees that frequently has orange, yellow, and red leaves on the same tree.
Black OakBlack Oak: The prevalence of the Black Oak on area ridges made Oak Ridge a logical name choice for this "created" city. Read more about Black Oak >>
Blackjack OakBlackjack Oak: Although there is "black" in the name, this oak has "red" autumn leaves but is considered a "white" oak! Read more about Blackjack Oak >>
Southern Red OakSouthern Red Oak: There are several red oak species at the Arboretum and around the area. Read more about Southern Red Oak >>
Scarlet OakScarlet Oak:"Spectacular fall color", "brilliant scarlet leaves", and "a standout for fall color" are some of the popular descriptions for this tree. Read more about Scarlet Oak >>
SassafrasSassafras: Look for this tree under both orange and yellow, too. A truly unique tree! Read more about Sassafras >>
SumacWinged Sumac: A common species of Sumac found along roadsides with bright red fall leaf color. Read more about Winged Sumac >>
SweetgumSweetgum: The star-shaped leaves and hanging brown, prickly balls of fruit make this tree easy to identify even without the yellow to reddish color of the fall leaves. Read more about Sweetgum >>

Maroon/Purple Leaves

Bradford PearBradford Pear: One of the earliest ornamental trees to bloom in the spring, this favorite landscape tree is among the last to turn to a deep maroon in the fall.
Flowering DogwoodDogwood: This spring favorite with its large white bracts surrounding tiny greenish flowers is also impressive in the fall with deep red leaves and shiny red fruit. Read more about Dogwood >>
SourwoodSourwood: The fragrant lily-of-the-valley type blossoms of midsummer are attractive to the Swallowtail butterflies. The fruit remains attached into winter long after the deep red leaves of autumn have fallen. Read more about Sourwood >>

Yellow Leaves

BeechAmerican Beech: This large tree's leaves begin the autumn as yellow and pale to a light orange in winter remaining attached until spring. Read more about American Beech >>
BirchYellow Birch: Found in the higher elevations of the Smoky Mountains, this popular member of the Birch family sports bright yellow leaves in autumn.
CottonwoodCottonwood: Named for its wispy cotton-like seeds floating along in the early summer, the shiny leaves turn yellow in autumn.
GinkgoGinkgo: A truly unique tree! The only surviving member of its family, the distinctive leaves turn bright yellow in autumn. And when the time is right, the leaves that are all on the tree one day are all on the ground the next! Read more about Ginkgo >>
HickoryHickory: A member of the walnut family, the hickory produces nuts that are prized by squirrels. The large leaves turn a golden yellow in the autumn. Read more about hickories >>
HophornbeamEastern Hophornbeam: With a range similar to the Hornbeam, the Hophornbeam is also noted for its hard wood. The leaves turn yellow in autumn.
Tulip PoplarTulip Poplar: Although this tree is referred to as "poplar", it is actually in the Magnolia family. But by any name, this Tennessee State Tree is impressive, especially in autumn with its yellow leaves. Read more about Tulip Poplar >>
SassafrasSassafras: See the listings for sassafras under Orange Leaves and Red Leaves. This remarkable tree can exhibit the entire spectrum of fall color! Read more about Sassafras >>
SweetgumSweetgum: Under the right conditions, the leaves of the sweetgum can turn yellow instead of red. See the listing under Red Leaves. Read more about Sweetgum >>

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University of Tennessee - Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
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