Two Trees – Colorful and Drought Tolerant

Chinese Pistache in full fall color earlier today

Chinese pistache in full fall color earlier today

Close up of foliage of Chinese pistache

Close-up of foliage of Chinese pistache

This green Japanese Maple is coming into fall color now

This green Japanese maple is coming into fall color now.

This upright green Japanese Maple has had limited water but still has great fall color

This upright green Japanese maple has had limited water but still has great fall color.

Close up of the green Japanese Maple today

Close-up of the green Japanese maple today

Today, I saw great fall color on two small trees. And I know that all the examples shown above have had almost no watering during the drought, and yet their color is regal. Green Japanese maples in any year are dependable for good fall color, but with so many trees having what I call “dirty” fall color, these are still brilliant. Their color range, because most of the green ones grown are seedlings, is a wide variety of color from yellow-reddish foliage to deep red color in the fall. They can be grown in multiple ways from single stem small trees to multi-stem trees. The best place to see quite a collection of these trees is at the Japanese Gardens in the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Their selection of types are labeled (even if it is a seedling), and they have been well maintained.
Chinese pistache, on the other hand, is a a favorite of landscape designers, but not a tree you see in many home landscapes. The one shown here is about 15 years old, from a 5 gallon plant, and steals the tree show on the street where it resides. These trees, once established, can really take a lot of dry weather; witness the multi-stem ones along I-59/20 entering Birmingham from the east between the airport and downtown along the roadway. They are coming into nice fall color today. I think the reason this tree is not planted more is that it look like a “bean pole” when it is young. And in case you are wondering, it is the same tree that we get pistachios from, but the non-fruiting type.
For good small trees that give dependable fall color and are an asset to most home landscapes, they two are my favorites.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

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