Answer: Reliable autumn color in your mild climate gardening region will be a challenge. Two trees that I would recommend are Liquidambar (sweet gum) and Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple). Of the two, Liquidambar is the fastest growing. It has a pyramidal shape and maple-like leaves that turn orange, red and yellow in the fall. Japanese maples are slower growing, but with a similar pyramidal look. Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood' will provide burgandy colored leaves all summer long; A.p. 'Ornatum', the Red Lace Leaf Maple, produces red leaves which turn a brighter red during fall. Acer rubrum 'Autumn Blaze' has a dense oval, upright crown, and orange-red fall color. Hope these suggestions help you choose just the right tree.
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