Common Name: smoketree
Type: Deciduous shrub
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
Suggested Use: Hedge
Leaf: Colorful, Good Fall
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Clay Soil
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).
This smoketree (sometimes also commonly called European smoketree) is a deciduous, upright, loose-spreading, multi-stemmed shrub that typically grows 10-15’ tall and as wide. Smoketree gets its common name not from the tiny, insignificant, yellowish flowers which appear in branching, 6-8” long, terminal panicles in spring, but from the billowy hairs (attached to elongated stalks on the spent flower clusters) which turn a smokey pink to purplish pink in summer, thus covering the tree with fluffy, hazy, smoke-like puffs. Bluish-green leaves (to 3” long) are ovate to obovate. Several attractive purple-leaved cultivars of this species are available and are generally more popular landscape plants than the species. Fall color is highly variable, but at its best produces very attractive shades of yellow, orange, red and purplish-red. In the same family as and closely related to the sumacs (Rhus).
No serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to leaf spot, rust and verticillium wilt.
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).