Plant & Flower Identification

How Do Colorful Oak Trees Turn In The Fall?

Colorful oak trees appear in the fall with rich tones from light to dark, lasting until winter comes. Unlike other deciduous trees, some Quercus – oaks only drop their last leaves in spring.

There are 600 types of oak trees and 90 native trees with a large range of beautiful fall colors. Yet, they have some common hues that can beautify your landscape.

Let’s find some amazing oak fall colors and choose your oak tree.

How Do Colorful Oak Trees Turn In The Fall?

colorful oak trees

Depending on oak species, oak tree leaves can turn red, orange, green, brown, russet, and yellow in the fall. They offer variant hues, creating a majestic scene in the cold weather.


If maple trees are famous for their fire-red leaves, colorful oak trees offer a large range of red. There are also brown, orange, or yellow dots in the middle of the reddish tree fall foliage.

These brilliant colors interleave, showing the change in life.

The gradient change of these colors creates a warm and fantastic sunset scene. When a breeze comes, some leaves fall out as sunshine drops on the ground.


This brilliant fall color is also common for an oak tree. The leaves go from green to yellow pigment before owning a deep and golden orange.

When it’s time for leaves to drop, oak leaves may turn brown.

Deep Green

While most oaks are deciduous, some oak tree varieties are not. The colors change from dark to light hues when it’s cold.

They keep their green foliage color throughout winter. When spring visits the town, old leaves drop for new germs to grow.

Some typical evergreen oaks are live oak, holm oak, holly oak, etc., which usually live in the south.


Oak trees’ fall color is showy, reaching their peak hues in mid-October. Afterward, their leaves turn golden brown or reddish-brown, a signal of their death.

Once brown fall color coverings appear in oak trees, the leaves fall in the breeze of winter. Some of them stay to welcome spring, providing vitality to the coldest time of the year.


Russet is a reddish-brown combination. It happens to pin oak (Quercus palustris) and scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea) in the fall. Although it is not as brilliant as red, it brings a peaceful silhouette.

Imagine an excellent shade tree in bronze-like red covering a street. How awesome it is!


Yellow is the most frequent answer to the question, “What color do oak trees turn in the fall?” It appears in most oak trees in the fall before transforming to its peak colors.

Some varieties, like bur oak, keep yellow foliage until their leaves fall in spring. The color goes from lighter to duller, pointing out the end of the leaf’s life.

Some oaks own this beautiful foliage color until the last yellow leaves drop. They are chestnut oak (Quercus prinus), burr oaks (Quercus macrocarpa), etc.

Which Oak Tree Has The Prettiest Color?

fall oak tree

It’s a northern red oak (Quercus rubra). This type of oak tree offers the deepest red in harmony with yellow and orange leaves in fall.

This combination creates a beautiful sunset scene, especially on sunny days.

Some prefer live oak trees with ample shade and strong wood. Some love pin oak trees with scarlet and bronze leaves in fall. Black oak leaves are also a good option, with glossy deep green leaves in summer.

It’s easy to grow a beautiful oak tree with leaves or oak acorns in your landscape. The acorn tree needs 18 – 20 days to germinate hydrangea seed and a few years to care for acorn-producing trees.

When Do Oak Leaves Change Color?

When summer passes, oak leaves transform their hues because of temperature changes. The color transformation starts from the north to the west, then the south.

This long-lived tree starts this process in early September and ends in the next two months. The best time to admire the oak fall foliage is mid-October when they reach their peak colors.

Depending on the weather, the beauty of oak fall colors varies. It looks gloomy on rainy days, bright and brilliant under the sun, and dreamy when some breezes come.

Why Does Oak Leave Change Colors?

The low chlorophyll and high carotene levels cause oak leaf color changes.

Chlorophyll reflects the sunlight to create green color for oak leaves. When the tree provides enough nutrients to the leaves, they produce this compound.

Once the chlorophyll level decreases, carotene starts to nominate, creating yellow color.

Anthocyanin – a compound born in the fall, can turn leaves of oak trees into different colors. When it works in an acidic environment, it turns the leaves red. Otherwise, it happens to purple foliage.

Besides intrinsic causes, the weather impacts the oak fall color. Chlorophyll in oak leaves disappears because of sunlight and low temperatures.

It promotes the increase of carotene and anthocyanin. That’s why oak trees look prettier on dry and sunny days.

Young oak trees develop well under the growing light. The leaf colors don’t have any difference from the traditional method. Yet, it would be best to grow it under natural light.

Top 6 Most Beautiful Oak Trees In The Fall

oak tree color

Red Oak Tree (Quercus Rubra)

Among species of oak tree, the red oak tree is adaptable and pollution-tolerant. These fast-growing trees also offer a great rounded shape.

Red oaks are favorable to different types of soil, but moist soil is in the best condition for it. Immature trees can grow 2 feets each year. It happens in its first 10 years. Its peak height is 75 inches on average.

Red oak trees provide glossy green bristle-tipped lobes leaves in April and May. Each leaf has 7-11 toothed lobes like scarlet oak leaves.

It blooms pale yellow flowers dotted in the upper branches. After pollination, these beautiful female flowers turn into dark brown oak acorns.

The oak tree leaves turn into russet or deep red in early September. It ends up reddish-brown or deep brown in early November. Its typical color dye all streets, bringing a sunset scene to the cities in fall.

White Oak Tree (Quercus Alba)

If red oak trees are suitable for urban settings, white oaks prefer large spaces for root growth. It can adapt to different soil types, including acidic soil, dry soil, wet soil, poor soil, etc.

Its name comes from its distinguishing feature of white underneath leaves. It shows dark green or bluish-green foliage on the upper side in summer.

These deciduous oak trees change leaf color in fall and lose their leaves when it’s colder.

The average height is 80 to 100 feet. A mighty oak tree of this species reaches a maximum height of 145 feet.

The ridged bark of white oak trees is a light gray color with shallow furrows. Its leaf shape is rounded lobes.

It turns into different warm hues in fall, which can be brown, orange, red, or burgundy. This color transformation displays colorful oak trees in the landscape.

Live Oak Tree (Quercus Virginiana)

If other varieties are deciduous oak trees, live oak always keeps its green leaves. The oak tree leaves turn from dark to lighter hues when the temperature drops.

The wide-spreading branches provide great shade, even in winter. It is wind-resistant and root-deep. Its maximum height of 60 feet minimizes unexpected damage from natural disasters.

Unlike other oak tree species, live oak tree leaves have an oval shape with smooth margins.

Live oak trees are strong and hard. Americans used live oak wood to create wooden sailing boats. Its sweet acorns were also a source of food.

Hence, these trees became an important part of life. A mighty oak grows rapidly from an acorn, except for some slow growers in types of oak trees.

Pin Oak Tree (Quercus Palustris)

Pin oak trees are one of the common types of garden landscapes. After its first 10 years of development, an immature tree can reach 25 to 35 feet in height

It is about 59 to 72 feet tall for a 40-year-old tree.

Its leaves have 5 deep lobes and feathered margins with glossy dark green color. In fall, pin oak’s foliage turns yellow, then scarlet red, and russet before dropping down in winter.

Like bur oaks, this type of oak loves sunlight, acidic soil, and moist and well-drained soil. Pin oaks offer a dense and shallow shade of 25 to 40 feet in good condition.

Although it is deciduous, pin oaks are perfect for garden landscapes with beautiful fall colors. It takes a short time to bud young leaves in spring.

Black Oak Tree (Quercus Velutina)

This majestic oak tree is one of the common types in North America. Black oak bark color has black outer.

Its deep furrows will show the yellow inner, leading to its nickname of yellow oak. This type of tree can reach 50 – 60 feet tall for mature trees.

Among species of oak tree, this oak tree native is pickier. It prefers moist soil and clay soil. If well-fertilized, this slower grower can gain 2 – 3 inches annually.

Black oaks have leathery leaves with deep lobes and deep green color in spring and summer. Once fall comes, it displays a yellow-brown partial shade.

In Its peak period, this tree’s foliage dots are reddish and pinkish colors.

Bur Oak Tree (Quercus Macrocarpa)

Most oaks love acidic soil. Yet, the Bur oak tree is one of a few common types adapting to alkaline soil in North America.

The mature height of bur oaks is from 30 – 98 feet. Some abnormal growths can reach 138 feet in height!

Its growth habit is quite slow, less than 12 inches annually. It loves unfiltered sunlight per day with clay soil, moist and well-drained soil.

These popular oak trees have leaf shapes similar to black oak but have rounded tips. These lobed leaves transform to yellow throughout fall and winter.

The exceptional shade tree goes duller in late winter, predicting the end of a leaf’s life.


Colorful oak trees will change your garden landscape in the fall. Depending on its variety, it offers different brilliant foliage. It can turn red, brown, orange, yellow, etc.

This beautiful scene starts in early September and lasts until spring comes. It offers a lively garden during the harshest and coldest weather of the year.

Oak is an ideal option for your landscape. You can consider red oak trees, white oaks, live oak trees, bur oak trees, etc., for a majestic oak tree scene.

Samuel Mark

Hello I am Samuel. Samuel's Garden is a garden blog where I share my experiences in garden caring and tree growth. Hope you enjoy it!

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