Cotinus coggygria

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 7 Professionals
Common Name: smoketree
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Anacardiaceae
Native Range: Southern Europe, Asia
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to July
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Colorful, Good Fall
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Clay Soil

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates wide range of soils except wet, poorly-drained ones. Prefers somewhat infertile loams, but also does well in poor, rocky soils. Good drainage is essential, however. Shallow fibrous root system. If bloom is not a concern, stems may be cut back hard in early spring each year to a framework to induce growth of vigorous new shoots with slightly larger than normal leaves. Such hard annual prunings will control size, but most likely at the expense of profuse flowering. Hard pruning is more often done on the purple-leaved cultivars (e.g., ‘Velvet Cloak).

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cotinus coggygria, commonly known as smoketree, is an upright, loose-spreading, deciduous, multi-stemmed shrub that is native from southern Europe to central China. It typically matures over time to 10-15' tall. It gets its common name of smoketree (or smokebush) not from the tiny, insignificant, yellowish flowers which appear in branching, terminal panicles (6-8” long) in spring, but from the billowy hairs (attached to elongated stalks on the spent flower clusters) which turn a smoky pink to purplish pink in late spring, thus covering the plant with fluffy, hazy, smoke-like puffs throughout summer. Bluish green leaves (to 3" long) are ovate to obovate.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to leaf spot, rust and verticillium wilt.

Garden Uses

Single specimen, group or mass in shrub borders or sunny areas around the home. Long-lasting summer smoke display makes this a striking accent plant. Also may be used as an informal hedge or screen (a smoke screen as it were).