When deciduous tree leaves change color, it is typically with an amazing range of color displays that can include red, yellow, brown, purple, orange and pink. The color of a tree’s leaf when it changes to shades of pink or red is genetically pre-determined by the amount of anthocyanins in a tree’s leaf. Anthocyanins are also responsible for the pigment in roses and berries. Trees that lack the genes to produce anthocyanins do not produce leaves that are the rosy hues of pink.
In spring, dogwood trees are known for their showy white and pink foliage. However, in fall shades of pink and red return to the branches as the leaves change for the winter. Leaf colors of dogwood trees can range from a light pink to a vivid red to purplish red. This tree prefers full shade, and can be found growing wild in the forest as part of the undergrowth for larger trees.
Many varieties of Japanese Maple produce foliage that is green with pink borders during the spring and summer months, due to the anthocyanin in the leaves. Some species have leaves that darken to fully pink when exposed to full sun and remain green tinged in the shade. In late fall, the green colors recede, leaving pink foliage behind. Varieties of Japanese maple with pink leaves include aka shigitatsu sawa, beni shichihenge, butterfly and coonara pygmy.
Parrotia Persica (Persian Parrot Tree)
It is obvious that the Persian parrot tree is packed with anthocyanins due to it's display of showy pink leaves in both the spring and fall. In spring, the new oval leaves produce a dark pink color before fading to green. In fall, the green recedes to reveal pink again. This tree, which is related to witch hazel, is prized as an ornamental due to its striking bark, small size and the display of color in the leaves.