Deciduous shrubs in the Araliaceae, related to ivy, the leaves of the various Eleutherococcus stay greenish in colour, but set off the lustrous black berries. A rarely grown species, this specimen of E. setchuenensis was growing at Howick Northumberland grown from seed collected by Lord Howick. As the name suggests it originates in western China.

Many deciduous Ericaceae have fine autumn colouring, not least Enkianthus campanulatus, a fine spring-flowering shrub with delicate bell-like flowers originating from Japan. Like most of the family, the Enkianthus prefer acidic soils. Thorpe Perrow, Yorks.

Enkianthus campanulatus, foliage and fruits.

Ephedra foemina, Bormingham Botanic Garden. Ephedra belongs to the Ephedrales, very primitive plants related vaguely to conifers. They produce attractive berry-like 'fruits' in autumn, but do not have true leaves. The orange flesh is formed from an ovule integument, so that the structure is in fact a modified seed, not a fruit. Most are dioecious and require both sexes to be grown if seed is to set, but some are monoecious and are self-fertile. These should be sought in cultivation as the seeds are the main draw.

Euonymus, spindles, is a large and varied genus of shrubs and small trees in the Celastraceae. Several are evergreen, but the deciduous species have some of the best autumn colour, which often sets off the curious fruits, which typically have bare, brightly coloured seeds associated with gaudy arils which are fleshy and sometimes sugary. Euonymus alatus is perhaps the best of all autumn-foliage species, originating from China and Japan and often colours a remarkable pink. Belsay, Northumberland.

Euonymus alatus. Holker Hall, Cumbria. This species rarely exceeds 2.5 m in height but can spread considerably.

The only British native species is Euonymus europaeus which occurs in limy soils in the southern half of Britain. The leaves do not stay on the plant long enough to colour well, but the fuits usually make an excellent show, the orange seeds clashing with the red arils. Knightshayes, Devon.

Euonymus europaeus. Close-up of fruits.

Euonymus hamiltonianus is a Himalayan species which often fruits very heavily. Kew, UK.

Euonymus hamiltonianus v sieboldianus is the eastern form, from Korea and China which tends to colour better than the Himalayan accessions. Howick, Northumberland.

Euonymus latifolius is the other European Spindle, differing from E. europaeus by virtue of larger and more ovate leaves. Unlike the true spindle it has excellent autumn colour, which lasts a long time, but tends not to fruit as heavily. Knightshayes, Devon.

Euonymus latifolius. Close up of foliage and fruit. This species differs from E. planipes of E Asia principally in the acute wings to the fruit. Do not confuse with the variety latifolius of the evergreen E. japonicus.

Euonymus oxyphyllus from Japan, China and Korea is one of the best of all large shrubs for autumn colour. Knightshayes, Devon.

Euonymus sanguineus from central and western China is rarely seen in cultivation and this material was collected by Lord Howick. Howick, Northumberland.

More grown for its large showy fruits than autumn colour, E. sanguineus is identified by its corky angled twigs.

Euonymus tingens from Asia is evergreen so has no autumn colour, but is grown for its large and delicately coloured fruits. It is not very hardy in the UK. Kew, UK.

The beech, Fagus sylvatica, is one of the glories of the European countryside in autumn. In particular the chalk hills of southern England are dominated by this fine tree, which permits very few plants to live under its canopy, which drips growth inhibiting substances. In large gardens and parks there are many varieties that can be chosen from, including 'Pendula', sown here, with fine weeping foliage.

Beech, Fagus sylvatica, makes a fine hedging plant which only needs clipping once a year. This hedge, which is in excess of 100 years old, encircles the author's property, Hexham, UK.

Fothergilla major (including F. monticola) is, like Parrotia, Disanthus and Corylopsis another relative of the witch-hazels, Hamamelis, and all have excellent autumn colour. In fact, Fothergilla, which rarely exceeds 2 m in height is amongst my very favourite small shrubs for the autumn, and it also makes a brave show in spring with large erect sulphur-coloured catkins. It is very localised in the wild, originating from the Allegheny mountains of West Virginia, USA. Like Parrotia, the autumn colour is multihued, a coat of many colours. Authors garden, UK.

Fothergilla major. Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.

Fothergilla major with Acer capillipes. Author's garden.

Fraxinus chinensis v. rhynchophylla. The leaves of the Chinese Ash can turn purple in some autumns, but more often remain yellow in common with most of the ash species. This noble genus of trees is not generally renowned for autumn colour. Howick, Northumberland, UK.

Fraxinus lanuginosa, the Japanese Ash has attractive white insect-pollinated flowers, unlike the cryptic blackish flowers of the familiar Fraxinus excelsior, the ash tree of Britain and much of Europe. In this, F. lanuginiosa resembles its southern European relative the Manna Ash, F. ornus which has even showier flowers. F. lanuginosa is rarely seen in British collections which is a shame as it also often colours well in autumn. Howick, Northumberland.

Fraxinus lanuginosa foliage, close. Howick.