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Autumn Color

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For many of us, autumn is a time of new beginnings: a new school year, new classes, and new friends. And while it is a busy time, be sure to take a moment to notice the beauty of the fall foliage on campus. A bright, brisk day is the perfect time to discover and celebrate the color, form, and even smell of Penn’s trees as they transform their canopies in a display of golds, oranges, reds, and purples.

black gum (Nyssa sylvatica)

Black tupelo is a small, slender tree with a rounded crown native to lowlands of the eastern U.S. In autumn, black tupelo’s leaves turn a vivid scarlet, maroon, or dark purple.

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panicled golden raintree (Koelreuteria paniculata)

The panicled goldenraintree is an interesting fall specimen because of its papery, lantern-shaped pea pods. These interesting “lanterns” cover the tree in drooping clusters, emerging light green and maturing to bronze by late fall.

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sugar maple (Acer saccharum)

The sugar maple is one of the most important hardwood trees in eastern North America, growing up to 80 feet tall and displaying a rounded to oval crown. In fall, its brilliant canopy varies from yellow, orange to red, adding significant visual interest to the landscape.

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white ash (Fraxinus americana)

White ash has the most spectacular fall color of all the ash species in North America, with leaves ranging from bright yellow to orange to deep maroon. These trees sometimes display a striking gradient, blending several hues in a vibrant display of color.

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maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba)

Maidenhair trees, or ginkgo, are prized for their autumn foliage, which changes reliably to a bright saffron yellow. Besides adding cheerful color to the landscape, these trees are loved for their beautifully unique fan-shaped leaves.

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red maple (Acer rubrum)

The fall color of red maple ranges from bright scarlet to deep burgundy, adding vivid red hues to autumn’s diverse palette. Their fall color is among the brightest and most striking of all landscape trees in eastern North America.

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thornless common honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis)

Honeylocusts are known for their golden fall color and fine-textured, lacy foliage. They also display long, pea-like seed pods which rattle in the autumn breeze.

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American yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea)

American yellowwood is a medium-sized shade tree native to North America. It displays an arching vase shape and smooth bark with a warm canopy of golden yellow tinged with orange in the fall.

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red oak (Quercus rubra)

Red oak is known for its bright orange-red to deep maroon fall color. Oaks tend to change color a few weeks after maples, providing a splash of color that is beautiful yet subdued. Their later color complements that of maples while extending the colorful show of autumn foliage for several more weeks.

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Japanese zelkova (Zelkova serrata)

Japanese zelkova are lovely trees for their inverted vase-like shape, exfoliating bark, and fall color. Leaf color ranges from golden to dark reddish-orange to burgundy.

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dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)

Dawn redwood is a deciduous conifer, displaying a show of bronze color in autumn before shedding its leaves. Its tall, slender conical canopy is a blaze of coppery bronze in fall, while its delicate, fine foliage adds a soft texture to the landscape.

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Japanese maple (Acer palmatum)

Japanese maples provide splendid fall color, adding bright scarlet and deep orange to the landscape. The lovely palmate leaves’ vivid hues are in beautifully stark contrast with the sinuous trunk and branches for which Japanese maples are celebrated. These trees make fantastic specimen trees, adding an exotic element to any garden.

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American Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)

American sweetgums, with their neatly compact, upright crown and tall stature, are a prized shade tree. In autumn, their lovely star-shaped leaves transform, displaying brilliant shades of purple red, orange, and yellow.

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