Reliable East-Coast-Style Autumn Foliage Color For Southern California

River Birch:
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Reliable should be taken with a grain of salt.  Most will never be totally reliable.  There are many years when the leaves just brown up and fall off.  This year Autumn foliage color is better than usual due to our early (October and November) rain fall followed by a period of warmth followed by a bit of chill (a few nights of temperatures in the high 30s and low 40s).   The early rain allowed the trees to hold onto their leaves.  Then it was kind of warm so they held on to them some more.  Then all of a sudden a little chill, and there you go!

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Parthenocissus tricuspidata -- highly reliable red color if the leaves don't fall off first due to drought.  The only vine in this post--the rest are trees.
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Japanese Maple  --hardly ever colors up.  This is the first time in ten years I've ever gotten autumn color
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Acer palmatum 'Oshio Bene':
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Italian Poplar (I think-- Populus x canadensis var. serotina) -- golden and decently reliable, but there's those invasive surface roots and suckering...
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Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica cultivars)-- mostly reliable; a very warm windy fall ruins it.  Fabulous this year:
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Ginko biloba --highly reliable, and the gold stays on the trees for several weeks, windy or not.
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Liquidambar  styraciflua-- most but not ever year and certain varieties are better than others, and there are those invasive surface roots and the big prickly seed balls that are painful to step on, even when you are wearing shoes.
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Pistacia chinensis -- same as Crape Myrtle.  For some reason very poor this year and the photo was not worth posting.  Wikipedia has a good fall-color one here.  The local few are already leafless.

Cercis occidentalis, the native Redbud, is rather exasperating: the leaves turn a beautiful yellow, but drop almost immediately. A lot of color goes to waste.
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White Mountain Birch (I think), Betula cordifolia -- same as Crape Myrtle.  Prime this year.
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Of course there are other plants.  I'm picking out those similar to what the east coast thinks of as autumn color.  We have plants that color up that almost no non-Californian would think of in terms of autumn color:  Euphorbia turicallii, aloe, yucca...

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Comments

  1. I was sure Chinese Pistache would offer grt color in So Cal like in the desert - too bad. In wetter landscapes, I recall Sweetgum being colorful in San Diego - mostly yellow here, even in a lawn.

    How about these alkaline soil / heat tolerant plants, if you can get them? -
    Texas Red Oak / Quercus buckleyi
    Chinquapin Oak / Q. muhlenbergii
    Bradford Pear / Pyrus cultivars (overused tho)
    Hacienda Creeper / ParthenocissusX'Hacienda Cr'
    Threeleaf Sumac / Rhus trilobata (color varies)

    I skipped brilliant Modesto Ash and Raywood Ash - borer issues now, needs more water.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Desert Dweller,

    The Pistache does offer color--often very good color--for some reason just not this year in this neighborhood. Bradford pear, some years some color--zip this year. I will look into the others, they sound good. Thanks! :)

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  3. Our color here is late, and several nights in the 20's burned up all but one of the Crepe Myrtles. However, the Japanese maples are fantastic this year. And the Chinese Pistache are very reliable.We have neighborhoods here where they are the planted street tree..oooh la la !

    Your color looks splendid..

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  4. Thanks ks! It's been our most foliage-colorful fall for a long time.

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