18 Jun 2016

Why I Didn't Get My Autumn Colour

After the sale of our swimming pool in 2001, the front yard needed to be landscaped, as we were left with a mound of sand where the pool used to be.
The hole being filled with sand.
One of the things I wanted was a specimen deciduous tree which would give us autumnal colour.

After some searching on the net, I settled for a Chinese Tallow Tree (Sapium sebiferum).  Here's one of many images from the web.
It is a fairly common tree in and around Perth but considered a weed in Queensland and also in NSW.

Here's a photo I took on planting it.
The exif info of that photo shows that I planted this tree in November, which would be late Spring.

Here's another pic, taken about 6 months later, in late Autumn (still working on the landscaping!), no sign of any colour yet!
The soil improved and ready for planting.  The white sand rectangle is for our fountain.
In fact, we never did get the colour seen in Google images.  The leaves just get yellow and then fades to brown and fall off.
This is about as good as it gets.  Not all leaves even reach this stage.

This shows the size of the tree now.
The fountain we built. Maybe I'll post something about that next time, as nothing much is happening these days.
Why didn't I get the full autumnal colour?

I learnt a few years ago (too late!!) that the trick is to buy the tree in autumn and choose one that has colour. 

Obvious when you think about it.

As mentioned earlier, I bought and planted my tree in spring when it was looking all green and healthy.

Ah well, it's a nice tree anyway and gives us good shade in summer.


  1. Here in Sydney, we have never been very successfull. OurJapanese maples look brown in autumn, Chinese Pistachio gets denuded by possums, claret Ash never the bright red. Only the Mongolian pear and magnolias do well. I was told we need a good cool season.

    1. I think you're right about the cool season factor. It probably doesn't get cold enough here. Some other Chinese tallows I've watched do get red when they're young but lose that colour when they're older.

  2. Interesting. Some ozzie states classify the Chinese tallow tree as an "invasive weed" -- some kind of botanic discrimination?. Is a permit needed to plant it?

    1. I think it's because they're non-native to Australia and proliferates at the expense of native species. I don't know about permits but they would certainly discourage people from planting it. At the time of planting my tree, I did read of the Chinese tallow being considered a weed in parts of the USA, but did not see any mention of it being classed as a weed in any part of Australia. The tree might have become a problem since then.

    2. It seems to be classified as a weed in NSW in their "weed alert"

    3. I meant in the early 2000s I didn't see mention of it as a weed in Australia. Now, of course, the tree has been classed as a weed in Queensland and NSW.

  3. Wowww!!! It's so big now! So good. Everything I plant dies...except maybe my uncontrollable curry leaf tree. Tsk! Tsk!

    1. My near neighbour has a curry leaf plant that looks like your first picture. But your second picture amazed me!