CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — West Virginia’s hills change to vibrant colors every fall, but some of the colors that stand out, like ginkgoes and Japanese maple, aren’t originally native to the state.

Although not all non-native plants are invasive or harmful to ecosystems, some exotic plants can harm habitats once introduced. Native plants, on the other hand, evolved in that particular area. Here’s a list of some of the most beautiful color changes to watch for this fall from trees that are native to West Virginia.

Red Maple

Red maples are among the most vibrant of the fall color changes in West Virginia, and they are also among the easiest to identify. As their name suggests, red maples turn bright red and even orange during the fall season. Even when the leaves are green, the leaf stems on red maples are red, making it easy to distinguish the five-point leaf from other maple variations. Red maple trees are common throughout the state.

Red maple (Ayotte, Gilles – Wikimedia Commons)

Sugar Maple

Maples in West Virginia are just so beautiful during fall that we had to include two. The sugar maple is the official state tree of West Virginia and has one of the most breathtaking leaf changes. Sugar maples turn variations of fiery red, orange and yellow and often have multiple colors on the same tree at a time. Sugar maples can be found across West Virginia.

Sugar maple (Cephas – Wikimedia Commons)


The American hornbeam turns multicolor orange and scarlet during the fall, according to the West Virginia Division of Forestry. Because they aren’t as large as maples, hornbeams, also known as musclewoods, often serve as a small ornamental tree. Although found across the state, the U.S. Department of Agriculture lists hornbeams as more common along the Ohio River.

American hornbeam (Famartin – Wikimedia Commons)

White Oak

Although there a many types of native oak trees in West Virginia that turn all sorts of colors, from brown to yellow to dark crimson, the white oak is unique because it is one of the few native trees in West Virginia that sometimes turns pink. The West Virginia Division of Forestry describes the color as pink to red, although the U.S. Forest Service says it ranges more from brick red to scarlet. White oaks can be found across West Virginia.

White oak (Famartin – Wikimedia Commons)


Although sassafras is known for the tea brewed from the leaves and roots, it also puts on quite a colorful display during the fall. WV Forestry says the leaves turn red, orange and yellow, and oftentimes multiple colors from green to red to yellow are all visible on the same tree at the same time. Sassafras can be found across West Virginia but is more common in the lower elevations.

Sassafras (Famartin – Wikimedia Commons)

Tulip Poplar

If you’re looking for an easy-to-identify tree, the tulip poplar or yellow poplar turns, as the name suggests, yellow and is found across West Virginia. Tulip poplars are tall with very straight trunks and uniquely shaped leaves that look like cat faces or duck feet. Oftentimes the leaves are more easily identified from the ground than on the tree.

Tulip poplars can be found across the state of West Virginia.

Yellow poplar leaves on the ground (gailhampshire – Wikimedia Commons)


If you’re looking for the most beautiful red leaf change, sumac might be the plant to look for. The West Virginia Division of Forestry lists sumac’s fall color as “brilliant red.” According to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, there are several types of sumac in the state, including “poison sumac” which is very rare, but all of them turn the same red color in the fall. Sumac can be found across West Virginia.

Winged sumac (Famartin – Wikimedia Commons)

These are just a few native plants to look for this fall. For the West Virginia Division of Forestry’s full Fall Foliage Coloration Guide, click here.