Deciduous trees

Deciduous trees are those that lose all of their leaves for part of the year. This process is called abscission and in temperate climates like ours this leaf loss occurs in winter.

Prior to leaf drop (abscission) the deciduous tree decreases its chlorophyll pigment production which would normally give the leaf its green appearance. The effect of this decrease of chlorophyll pigment is that other colour pigments become more apparent hence the gold, orange, red and purple foliage colour change that some trees display in autumn.

Many deciduous trees flower during the period they are leafless.  The absence of leaves makes flowers more visible to pollinating insects and wind transmission of pollen more effective.

Deciduous trees have an important role to play in gardens in WA, particularly when positioned on the North and Western sides of the home. In summer time their leafy canopy provides shading and cooling and conversely in winter the bare branches allow maximum sun light to penetrate and warm the home.

Always plant your tree with good quality soil conditioner mixed in well with your existing soil and with a length or ‘root barrier’ around the root zone (below the soil surface). Root barrier is safe and effective and encourages trees to send their roots down deeper into the soil before branching out. This helps to minimise disturbance of paving, driveways and walls from tree roots.

The deciduous trees that work well in WA are sourced from all around the world and include;

  • Claret Ash (Fraxinus angustifolia ‘Raywood’) An Australian-raised cultivar that turns a deep burgundy-red in autumn. Grows to around 10 meters high.  (L)
  • Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) Native to South-East Asia the Crepe myrtles are highly decorative small trees with ornamental bark, a graceful form, autumn foliage colour and stunning spring floral display. Many forms, from 4 to 8 meters high.  (S), (L)
  • Elm (Ulmus spp) Native to Europe and parts of Asia, Elms are strong and vigorous performers typified by their rough textured, toothed leaves. Many forms 10 – 20 meters in 20 years. (L)
  • Gingko biloba also known as the Maidenhair tree is thought to be one of the oldest trees growing on earth, a true living fossil. The Gingko displays bright green foliage in summertime, turning golden in autumn. Grows to around 9 meters in 20 years. (L)
  • Gleditsia tricanthos ‘Ruby Lace’ and ‘Sunburst’.  Used for providing both a stunning foliage display and for its filtered shade. The Gleditsia also referred to as Honey-Locust are hardy, adaptable and easy to grow. Grows to around 6 - 8 meters in 20 years. (S), (L)
  • Golden Ash (Fraxinus excelsior ‘Aurea’) is a good medium sized tree with distinctive yellow bark on its young branches and a stunning golden autumn foliage display. Grows to around 8 meters in 20 years. (L)
  • Liquidambar (Liquidambar styraciflua) A hardy and attractive tree that is ideal for larger gardens and parklands. The name comes from the sweet resin which was used in the manufacture of chewing gum, a stabiliser in cakes and a flavour in baked foods. The fine grained timber was also used in furniture making. This form grows to around 13 meters in 20 years.  (L)
  • London Plane (Platanus x acerifolia) A majestic tree which is widely used as street trees and in parks and gardens. Resilient and hardy the London Plane tree grows to around 14 meters in 20 years.  (L)
  • Ornamental Flowering Pear (Pyrus cultivars) There are many varieties available and all are hardy, adaptable with attractive flowers and glossy leaves. There are many forms with heights spanning 4 to 12 meters in 20 years.  (S), (L)
  • Ornamental Flowering Plum (Prunus cultivars) With their dark green to ruby red foliage and pink spring blossoms these are a showy addition to any home garden.  Having round or columnar canopy forms and heights from 3 to 6 meters. (S)
  • Persian Ironwood (Parrotia persica) Native to northern Iran the Persian Ironwood is particularly admired for its unique and variable autumn foliage colour. The Persian Ironwood will grow around 7 x 5 meters in 20 years. (S)
  • Pistachio (Pistacia chinensis)A very attractive medium growing tree native to central and western China which is renowned for its orange-red  autumn colour display. Grows to 8 x 6 meters in 20 years. (S)
  • Chinese tallow tree (Triadica sebifera – formerly Sapium sebiferum) A very hardy, relatively small sized tree that can survive well in confined spaces. The Tallow puts on a stunning foliage colour display with leaves changing from gold to copper to bright reddish-purple. The Chinese tallow tree will grow to a maximum height of around 8 meters. (S)

 Key for items above

(S)  Ideal for smaller gardens and courtyards

(L)  Ideal for larger gardens, parks and reserves