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Types of trees with brilliant fall colors in the St. Louis area

Purples, pinks, orange and gold, there are several different trees getting ready to put on a show. Here's how you can identify them in your neighborhood

ST. LOUIS — Autumn’s paintbrush is starting to spread its colorful hue across the St. Louis area.

Reds, pinks, oranges and yellows are starting to pop up on trees, giving leaf peepers a fall foliage show across the area.

But, what about the trees in your neighborhood? Missouri and Illinois have a wide variety of trees that allow us to experience a colorful autumn.

5 On Your Side checked in with the Missouri and Illinois conservation departments to see what trees are most common in the Bi-state area and how their leaves shift and change in the fall – so you can see what kind of colors to expect near you.

The St. Louis area is forecast to see peak fall colors beginning the week of Nov. 9.

READ ALSO: Map: Here's when fall colors will peak near you

Flowering dogwood – Missouri’s state tree

Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Branch of dogwood tree with flowering buds in early Autumn

It’s one of the first to bloom in the spring and often filled with rich, red and maroon colors in the fall. Flowering dogwood leaves also can change to a variety of yellow, orange and pink tones, depending on growing conditions, weather patterns, stresses and the plant’s own genetics. Birds enjoy eating the red fruit of the seeds.

White oak – Illinois’ state tree

Credit: Missouri Department of Conservation
White oak foliage backlit October, 1996

These stately trees produce brown to red colors as the leaves change and often will be some of the last to drop its leaves. Peak colors are usually seen in the second half of October for most of the state. White oak trees may be a favorite for squirrels with the abundance of acorns this year.

Sugar maple

Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Sugar maples are like a tree on fire in the fall. The leaves turn yellow first and then become orange, often looking like flames.

Smooth sumac

Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

This is more like a shrub that’s commonly found along roadsides in the area. In early fall, the smooth sumac leaves turn a brilliant purplish red.

Fragrant sumac

Credit: Missouri Department of Conservation
Fragrant sumac foliage October, 1991

The cousin of poison ivy. And just like its cousin, fragrant sumac’s leaves turns lovely colors in the fall, ranging from red to burgundy and purple.


Credit: eqroy - stock.adobe.com

Sassafras leaves come in three shapes: entire, single-lobed and trident-shaped. Its leaves are very colorful in the fall. At their peak, sassafras is loaded with beautiful gold, copper, orange, peach and burgundy hues.

Sweet gum

Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Known for those pesky gumballs, sweet gum trees produce vibrant fall colors on its large leaves ranging from gold to red, pink and purple – often all on the same tree.

Tulip trees

Credit: Missouri Department of Conservation
Tulip poplar foliage October, 1991

Tulip trees are famous for having “cat-shaped” leaves. These large trees put on a show in the spring with beautiful flowers and again in the fall with yellow leaves.

For more information on each of these trees, browse through the photo gallery below.

Have beautiful fall foliage photos you'd like to share with 5 On Your Side? Open our free app (search KSDK in your app store or click the links below) and click the "Near Me" button in the lower right-hand corner. From there, you can upload photos and videos that can be featured on the map and possibly on air or on our website.

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