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TREES & plants

Eurasian smoke tree

Yellow fall color of Eurasian smoke tree

The outstanding feature of Eurasian smoke tree is the large, airy, plume-like stalks that hold the small flowers.  These are covered with hairs that provide the appearance of a puff of smoke.  Eurasian smoke tree will grow as either a single-trunked tree or a multi-stemmed shrub.  Although it may suffer from dieback in cold winters, vigorous stems bounce back to life in spring. The purple leaved cultivars are popular as landscape accents.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.

 

Botanical name: 
Cotinus coggygria
All Common Names: 
Eurasian smoke tree, Smoke tree, Smoke bush, Smoketree, Smokebush
Family (English): 
Cashew, sumac
Family (Botanic): 
Anacardiaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Shrub, 
  • Tree
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Landscape Uses: 
  • Hedge, 
  • Massing, 
  • Mixed border, 
  • Patio/sidewalk, 
  • Screen, 
  • Specimen
Size Range: 
  • Compact tree (10-15 feet), 
  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), 
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Season of Interest: 
  • Early summer, 
  • Mid summer, 
  • Late summer, 
  • Early fall, 
  • Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Pink
Shape or Form: 
  • Irregular, 
  • Multi-stemmed, 
  • Upright
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate
More Information: 

Size and Form

10 to 15 feet high and wide; upright to irregular habit.

Tree & Plant Care

Best in full sun to light shade in well-drained soil.
Avoid planting in low-lying areas where soil remains wet.
Shallow roots benefit with a layer of mulch to moderate soil temperatures.
Prune cultivars with colored foliage heavily to produce new growth (which produces best color).

Disease, pests and problems

Verticillium wilt
May suffer from dieback in cold winters

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Europe and Asia

Bark color and texture 

Bark is relatively smooth and light gray when young; takes on a more flaky appearance with age.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, alternate leaves; oval or slightly elongated, 1 to 3 inches long.
Color is green on the species; will vary by cultivar (some red, purple or yellow).
Fall color is reddish-purple on the species, some cultivars turn orange.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

The actual flowers are tiny and not showy. 
The structure that holds the flowers is covered with hairs and this is the actual 'smoke' for which the tree is named.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

The true fruit are small and dry.  Again, the structure that holds the fruit is the source of the 'smoke' of this plant.

Cultivars and their differences 

Daydream  Eurasian smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria ‘Daydream’): Bluish-green leaves turn yellow to red in the fall; dense clusters of persistent flower stalks produce purplish-red ‘smoke’ in mid-summer.

Golden Spirit smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria 'Ancot'): Oval to rounded reaching 6 to 8 feet high and 5 to 6 feet wide; new foliage emerges chartruse; gold to lime green changing to medium green in summer and fall color ranges from pink, orange, coral and red.

Grace smoke tree (Cotinus 'Grace'): A hybrid of Cotinus obovatus and Cotinus coggygria 'Velvet Cloak'. Large pink flower panicles with  4 to 6 inch long blue-green leaves. Can be a small tree or large shrub reaching 15 to 20 feet high.

Nordine smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria ‘Nordine’): One of the hardiest of the purple-leaf forms, selected from The Morton Arboretum collections; oval to slightly elongated purplish-red leaves hold color well into the summer and then change to an orange-yellow in the fall.

Royal Purple smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’): Upright, 10 to 15 feet high and 10 feet wide. Dark purple leaves in summer and red-purple in fall;  'smoke' is also reddish purple.

Velvet Cloak smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria ‘Velvet Cloak’): Dark, oval to slightly elongated purple leaves maintain color throughout the summer; fall color is a reddish-purple; large, purple-pink, airy, plume-like flower stalk clusters provide interest all summer.

Cotinus coggygria or Eurasian smoke tree