In the Hill Country of Texas hardwoods put on a color display in autumn, though some are more fiery and prolific than others. Maples are among the most renowned; in East Texas, red maples and boxelders add vibrant yellow and crimson to woods and shrub lands. Native oaks such as eastern black oak and southern red oak tend to put on a slightly more subdued display of browns, reds and yellows. Other hardwoods colorful in autumn include walnuts, sycamores, beech, sweetgum, elms, cottonwoods and black cherries. Groves of quaking aspen, widely scattered in the highlands of far western Texas, turn a mesmerizing yellow. One conifer native to East Texas, the bald cypress, is deciduous; its feathery needles turn from green to golden or orange-brown in the autumn before dropping. This great tree of buttressed trunk and fibrous bark lords over many a backwater swamp in the Southeast.
Trees are not the only ones showing off their color displays in autumn: A host of shrubs, from sumacs to poison ivy, add to the visual feast. The four most common species of sumac found in Hill Country Aromatic Sumac, Prairie Flameleaf Sumac, Evergreen Sumac and Littleleaf Sumac. While they are all different in appearance, they all produce red berries and are shrubs or small trees.
By Peggy Cunningham