Autumn Trees with Red Leaves to Grow in Australia

If you simply love autumn and the different colours that the season can bring, you might be interested in growing some deciduous trees whose leaves turn red in autumn.

Deciduous trees are popular in the southern parts of the country because they put on a magnificent display in autumn when their leaves change colour before dropping off.

If you simply love autumn and the different colours that the season can bring, you might be interested in growing some deciduous trees whose leaves turn red in autumn.

Here are a few species to consider.

Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple)

Japanese Maple Tree 1 | Plant varieties

When I think of red leaves in autumn, the Japanese maple is the first tree that comes to mind. Not only does the tree have a lovely growth habit and structure but the leaves turn a stunning red colour in autumn.

This tree can reach a height of 5 metres but this will depend on the cultivar that you’re growing. There are plenty of different ones available, even some weeping forms. 

Some popular ones include:

  • Acer ‘Osakazuki’ that only reaches a height of 4 metres
  • Acer ‘Sugar’ is a large shade tree with brilliant red autumn foliage
  • Acer ‘Chishio’ is a small tree with a max height of 4 metres and pinky-red autumn leaves

Cotinus coggygria (Smoke Bush)

Cotinus coggygria Purple Smoke Bush | Plant varieties

Don’t let the common name ‘smoke bush’ fool you as this is actually a small tree that can grow to a height of 4 metres with a spread of 3 metres. It has the most stunning crimson-coloured foliage in autumn.

But that’s not the only display of colour that this tree will delight you with. In summer, the tree produces clusters of purple and pink flowers that look like puffs of smoke. 

Fraxinus oxycarpa (Claret Ash)

Claret Ash | Plant varieties

If you’re after a tree that has the most outstanding deep red-coloured leaves in autumn, you can’t go past the claret ash. This large, fast-growing tree will delight you with its stunning autumn foliage.

But, you’ll need plenty of space for this beauty as it can grow to a height of 12 metres and a width of 9 metres.

Lipstick Maple

The Lipstick maple is a collection of stunning maple trees that have been bred by Flemings nurseries. These stunning trees have a lovely uniform structure with the most amazing autumn foliage.

This range of specially bred maples are medium to large trees and can reach heights of up to 12 metres.

Liquidambar styraciflual

Liquidambar styraciflual | Plant varieties

The liquidambar is a popular tree thanks to its lobed leaves that turn gorgeous shades of orange, red and purple in autumn. It can grow into quite a large tree up to a height of 20 metres and a spread of 6 metres.

Nyssa sylvatica (Tupelo)

Nyssa sylvatica | Plant varieties

For cooler regions, the tupelo is a large tree reaching a height of around 10 metres. It has lovely dark stems and amazing coloured foliage in autumn. Colours can range from yellow through to orange, red and crimson. 

Parrotia persica (Persian Ironwood)

Parrotia persica | Plant varieties

This stunning tree will provide lots of colour in autumn as the leaves turn from green to yellow, orange and finally red. It’s a fantastic shade tree in summer if you have the space to grow it.

It can reach a height of 7 metres with a massive spread of up to 5 metres. This tree is ideal for the southern states because it’s both frost and snow-tolerant.

Pistacia chinensis (Chinese pistachio)

Pistacia chinensis | Plant varieties

The Chinese pistachio has brilliant red foliage in autumn and is a medium-sized tree reaching a height of around 8 metres. It has attractive pinnate leaves and a rounded crown with a slender trunk.

Prunus campanulata (Flowering Cherry)

Prunus campanulata | Plant varieties

With a flowering cherry tree in your garden, you can have the best of both worlds. This tree will delight you with pretty red bell-shaped flowers in spring and stunning bronze-red foliage in autumn.

This medium-sized tree will grow to a height of 4 metres and a width of 3 metres. Even the bark on this tree is highly ornamental with its reddish-brown colour.

Quercus palustris (Pin Oak)

Quercus palustris | Plant varieties

Not only does this delightful oak have stunning red foliage in autumn but it also has a lovely pyramid growth habit. This makes it an ideal shade tree in summer and an absolute aesthetic delight in autumn. 

This is a large tree that can reach a height and width of 15 metres.

Quercus coccinea (Scarlet Oak)

Quercus coccinea | Plant varieties

This is another stunning oak tree with the most outstanding bright red autumn foliage. It can reach a height of around 12 metres and makes an excellent shade tree in summer.

Malus ioensis ‘Rubra’ (Red Flowering Crab Apple)

If you want a deciduous tree with stunning red foliage in autumn that can also provide you with some fruit, then consider growing a crab apple. This particular cultivar not only has red leaves in autumn but it also features red flowers in spring.

It’s a small to medium-sized tree reaching a height of 5 metres and a width of around 3 metres. 

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.


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