The First Plants to Indicate Autumn is Here in Rhode Island.

fall foliage 1

Autumn foliage is due to degradation of chlorophyll toward the end of the growing season when daylight hours shorten and temperatures cool.  When chlorophyll production decreases, hidden pigments in the leaf’s cells begin to show through.  The following is a short list of plants that are my early indicators that autumn has arrived in RI.


  1. Acer rubrum (Red Maple) – deep red or yellow
  2. Ginko Biloba (Maidenhair Tree) – yellow
  3. Nyssa sylvatica (Black Gum) – scarlet
  4. Sassafras albidum (Sassafras) – orange, scarlet, and purple


  1. Hamamelis mollis (Chinese Witch Hazel) – red, yellow, orange
  2. Fothergilla x intermedia (Fothergilla) – orange
  3. Enkianthus campanulatus (Redvein Enkianthus) – red, yellow, orange
  4. Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf Hydrangea) – red, bronzy orange


  1. Toxicodendron radicans (Poison Ivy) – red
  2. Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia Creeper) – orange