Fall Color Shrubs

Great Fall Color Plants for the Mountain West

Fantastic Colorado fall color trees and shrubs

One major reason we love Colorado living is the magnificent autumn firework display our wealth of trees provides… and the best recipe for brilliant fall foliage color combines warm days, cool nights, and plenty of sunshine — sound familiar?

Try these underused but worthwhile trees and shrubs for autumn landscape pop!



Bigtooth or Wasatch maple

Acer grandidentatum- a Colorado-native, medium-sized tree with bold orange-to-red fall color; well adapted to our diverse climate, soils, elevations, and temperatures.

Bigtooth Maple

flickr: NPS Photo/Jenny Eberlein


“Miss Kim” lilac

Syringa patula ‘Miss Kim’ – Medium-large lilac bush; Full sun to part shade, low to moderate water needs. Hardy, late-blooming lilac with dark green foliage and stellar burgundy fall color. In spring, pale-blue, fragrant flowers.

syringa 'miss kim'

Serviceberry bush

Amelanchier alnifolia – a great foothills shrub with upright to spreading branches, small rounded leaves; clusters of small white flowers; blue-black fruit attractive to wildlife; mellow pale-golden to red fall color.

Serviceberry bush, fall color

Nadiatalent (Own work), Wikimedia Commons


New Mexico Privet

Forestiera neomexicana – stellar for xeriscaping and drought-tolerant. it’s a large shrub to a small tree; dense, grayish-green foliage, yellow flowers before leaves, blue-black fruit on females, light tan bark; buttery yellow fall color! And it’s great for screening. 

New Mexico Privet in bloom



Western Chokecherry

Prunus virginiana melanocarpa – hardy in many conditions: irregular, branching shrub with shiny dark green leaves and elongated flower clusters; suckers to form thickets; dark purple fruit excellent for preserves; diverse fall color, from golden to orange to red.

western chokecherry showing autumn foliage

Famartin (Own work), Wikimedia Commons

Smooth sumac

Rhus glabra – native to the plains and drought-hardy, an open, rounded, thicket-forming shrub; bright green leaves; pyramidal clusters of yellow flowers produce fuzzy dark red fruits in fall that persist into winter; outstanding red fall color.

Rhus glabra, New York Botanical Garden


Three-leaved sumac, or “Skunkbrush”

Rhus trilobata – like its smooth cousin, native to the plains and drought-hardy; arching branches with glossy green three-parted leaves, small yellow flowers before leaves; reddish hairy edible fruits; orange to red fall color.



Golden Currant shrub

Ribes aureum – tolerant across a wide variety of conditions, preferring well-drained soil; arching growth habit; yellow clove-scented flowers in late spring; bears yellow to black fruit which attracts birds; orange to deep red fall color.

ribes aureum showing autumn foliage


“Red-twig” / “red-osier” Dogwood

Cornus sericea and Cornus stolonifera – this native medium-sized tree is adaptable to both plains and montane environments. gorgeous red stems in winter; flat, white flower clusters followed by white to blue fruits attractive to birds; yellow to red fall color; shade tolerant.



Want more fall tips? Try our Autumn series here.

More landscaping? Try these articles.

Have a question about your fall or winter landscaping needs? ArborScape is here to help with free on-site assessments, estimates, and custom treatment plans!

Contact us via our quick form here or call us at 303-806-TREE now with any questions.


Colorado fall color trees and shrubs

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