TREES & plants

Eurasian smoke tree

 The outstanding feature of Eurasian smoke tree is the large, airy, plume-like stalks that hold the small flowers.  These pass through several color changes, often a smoky pink, and provide interest all summer.  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.

Botanical name: 
Cotinus coggygria
All Common Names: 
Eurasian smoke tree, smoke tree, smoke bush, smoketree, smokebush
Family (English): 
Cashew, sumac
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Shrub
  • Tree
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
Growth Rate: 
  • Medium
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Dry sites
  • Alkaline soil
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Size Range: 
  • Compact tree (10-15 feet)
  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
Shape or Form: 
  • Multi-stemmed
  • Upright
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Massing
  • Mixed border
  • Screen
Time of Year: 
  • Early summer
  • Mid summer
  • Late summer
More Information: 

Size and Form

10 to 15 feet high and wide; upright habit.

Tree & Plant Care

Avoid planting in low-lying areas where soil remains wet.
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.

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 (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.

Nordine (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 (Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’):  Leaves are dark purple in summer and red-purple in fall;  'smoke' is also reddish purple.

Velvet Cloak (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.