This unassuming small tree/large shrub, grows to about 20 feet. It’s smooth blue green leaves and light smokey pink flower clusters in spring are nothing compared to the brilliant shades of yellow, red and orange it sports in fall.
Cotinus trees are male or female. Males have larger, showier flower clusters than the females. The flowers individually are not striking, but seen at a distance they create a lovely, smoky haze around the tree. They remain attractive through fall. Finches eat the seeds that form from the ripening flowers.
Smoke tree tolerates a wide range of conditions (wet soil, wind, heat, drought, clay, compacted soil) and is moderately deer tolerant. It grows best in full sun, and thrives in alkaline (High pH) soil.
If you periodically cut it back, it will re-grow with new growth from the base, retaining a shrub-like form. It thrives on neglect as long as it is in well drained soil. If a stem breaks due to storm damage, simply cut it back.
The American Smoke tree is native to the southern states, where they may be in danger of extinction. It is hardy to zone 4. The native species is not the same as the commonly available European Smoke Tree (Cotinus coggygria). When seeking native plants, always check the botanic name. Many natives and non-natives share the same common name.
All plants at Edge of the Woods are nursery propagated. We do not collect from the wild.