Botanical Name: Cotinus coggygria
Common Name: Smoketree
Origin: S. Europe/Asia
Notable Feature: The common name Smoketree derives not from the tiny, insignificant, yellowish flowers which appear in branching panicles in spring, but from the billowy hairs that are attached to the spent flower clusters. These hairs turn a smoky pink to purplish pink in summer, covering the tree with billowing, hazy “puffs of smoke”.
Habit: A multistemmed, deciduous shrub that is upright, loose and open in habit. It typically matures over time to 10 to 15 feet tall and about as wide.
Flowers: Tiny, 5-petalled, 1/3” in diameter, and ornamentally insignificant. The yellow flowers occur in branching, 6- to 8-inch long terminal panicles in June. Billowy hairs attached to the spent flower clusters turn a smoky pink in summer. Flowers are primarily monoecious (male and female flowers are borne on separate trees).
Fruit: Small, kidney-shaped, ¼” wide drupes.
Foliage: Alternate and simple, oval to obovate, 1 ½ to 3 ½” long, blue-green in summer, and turning a variable yellow-red-purple in fall.
Bark: Initially light gray-brown, later splitting into thin strips and becoming scaly and darker.
Interesting Fact: It is commonly grown as an ornamental plant with quite a few cultivars available in the marketplace. Many of these have been selected for purple foliage and flowers. Often the purple-leaved forms are cut to the ground (stooling) in late winter to force vigorous stem growth which is more colorful than the normal shoot growth.