Cotinus obovatus

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: American smoke tree 
Type: Tree
Family: Anacardiaceae
Native Range: Southern United States
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 20.00 to 30.00 feet
Spread: 20.00 to 30.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Yellowish-green
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Good Fall
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Clay Soil


Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun. Adaptable to wide range of soils, including poor rocky soils, but prefers well-drained, somewhat infertile loams.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cotinus obovatus, commonly called American smoketree, is a small, deciduous, rounded, Missouri native tree or large, upright shrub typically growing 20-30' tall and occurring on limestone glades, rocky limestone bluffs and bald knobs in the area of the White River in southeast Missouri. Smoketree gets its common name not from the 6-10" flower clusters (tiny, insignificant, dioecious, yellowish-green flowers) which bloom in June, but from the billowy hairs (attached to elongated stalks on the spent flower clusters) which turn a smoky pink to purplish pink in summer, thus covering the tree with fluffy, hazy, smoke-like puffs. Bluish green leaves are, as the species name suggests, obovate. Foliage turns a variety of colors in the fall (including yellow, red, orange and reddish purple), and produces some of the best fall color of any of the native American trees and shrubs.

Genus name comes from the Greek word kotinus meaning olive.

Specific epithet means egg-shaped with the broadest end uppermost.


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


Best when massed or grouped in the shrub border. Long-lasting, summer "smoke" display makes this a striking accent plant.