Fall Color Guide

We’re leaf peepers all year-round, but fall is our over-the-moon season at the Chicago Botanic Garden. It’s not just the trees that catch our attention—other fall favorites shine, including chrysanthemums in gorgeous shades of golden bronze, deep purple, and sangria red.

Here are just a few fall foliage highlights recommended by Boyce Tankersley, the Garden’s  director of living plant documentation; download our GardenGuide app for more information and to find other areas to explore.

Tell us what you see

We’d love for you to take in fall—and help science at the same time. Join Budburst and record your fall color observations with a simple app. Budburst, a community science project of the Garden, brings together researchers, educators, and community scientists to help answer important questions around the effects of climate change on plants and animals, and how we can mitigate those effects.

 

Katsura tree

Katsura tree
(Cercidiphyllum japonicum
)

Where to find it: Sensory Garden
Fall color: Yellow-orange
Fun fact: Has scent of cotton candy

Pee wee oakleaf hydrangea

Pee wee oakleaf hydrangea
(Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Pee Wee’)

Where to find it: Farwell Landscape Garden walkway toward Graham Bulb Garden
Fall color: Purple, bronze
Fun fact: Petite version of native oakleaf hydrangea

Japanese maple

Omato Japanese maple
(Acer palmatum ‘Omato’)

Where to find it: Waterfall Garden
Fall color: Red, purple
Fun fact: Described as one of the best Japanese maples for red fall color

 

Black tupelo

Black tupelo 
(Nyssa sylvatica)

Where to find it: Malott Japanese Garden shoreline
Fall color: Red to deep purple
Fun fact: Native to Illinois

Staghorn sumac

Staghorn sumac
(Rhus typhina)

Where to find it: Native Plant Garden
Fall color: Yellow, orange, scarlet
Fun fact: Has fuzzy cluster of deep red fruits

Southern blackhaw

Southern blackhaw
(Viburnum rufidulum)

Where to find it: Viburnum Walk & Sensory Garden
Fall color:
Deep burgundy
Fun fact:
Native to the southern U.S.

 

Freeman maple

Freeman maple
(Acer x freemanii)

Where to find it: West collections; parking lots
Fall color: Orange-red to scarlet red
Fun fact: Hybrid of red maple and silver maple

American cranberry bush

American cranberry bush
(Viburnum opulus var. americanum)

Where to find it: Shaw Flower Walk
Fall color:
Bronze to red
Fun fact:
Edible red fruits can be used in preserves and jellies

Sugar maple

Sugar maple
(Acer saccharum)

Where to find it: Circle Garden, Krasberg Rose Garden, & more
Fall color: Yellow, orange, red
Fun fact: Sap produces syrup

 

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