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Common Smoketree Cotinus coggygria

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Cotinus cinereus
  • Cotinus coriarius
  • Cotinus ellipticus
  • Rhus cotina
Phonetic Spelling
ko-TYE-nus kog-GY-gree-uh
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Smoketree is an upright spreading deciduous shrub or small tree in the Anacardiaceae (cashew or poison ivy) family. It will provide a wide range of garden interest throughout the season.

The smoky pink flowers are showy, wispy, and airy and appear in mid-summer. They consist of many filaments which make up a cloud of color on the current season's growth.  Fall foliage is reddish-purple and the crushed leaves smell like a radish. 

While it prefers to be planted in well-drained soil in the full sun it is adaptable to wide range of soil pH. The purple-leaved varieties planted in the shade may have its leaves revert to green.  This plant has a fibrous root system which is easy to transplant, and once established, is drought tolerant.  Prune it back in late winter 6 to 8 inches above the ground will rejuvenate its shape.  This will sacrifice any flowering for that year however.  To preserve the flowers leave 1/3 of the old stems on the plant.

In the garden, this plant is best used as a large accent plant, single specimen, or planted in a row as an informal hedge. Smokebush has many cultivars, but the flowers are often sacrificed for the interesting foliage color or bright orange or yellow fall leaf color. 

Quick ID Hints:

  • Shrub with alternate, simple, purplish leaves with parallel veins
  • Inflorescence is panicles of smoky pink flowers
  • Leaves green or reddish-purple

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Although typically considered pest and disease free, it has some susceptibility to rust, leaf spot, and verticillium wilt.  This plant is in the same family as poison ivy and contact with the resinous sap may cause contact dermatitis especially to those sensitive to poison ivy.

See this plant in the following landscapes:
Hydrangeas in the Garden Hidden Vegetable Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Ancot' GOLDEN SPIRIT, 'Daydream', 'Pink Champange', 'Royal Purple'
Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#small tree#full sun tolerant#drought tolerant#shrub#easy to grow#wildlife plants#deciduous shrub#showy leaves#colorful#low maintenance#fall interest#accent plant#interesting leaves#flowering tree#hedges#disease resistant#fast growing#cpp#pest resistant#deer resistant#fantz#dendrology#clay soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#contact dermatitis
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Ancot' GOLDEN SPIRIT, 'Daydream', 'Pink Champange', 'Royal Purple'
Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#small tree#full sun tolerant#drought tolerant#shrub#easy to grow#wildlife plants#deciduous shrub#showy leaves#colorful#low maintenance#fall interest#accent plant#interesting leaves#flowering tree#hedges#disease resistant#fast growing#cpp#pest resistant#deer resistant#fantz#dendrology#clay soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#contact dermatitis
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cotinus
    Species:
    coggygria
    Family:
    Anacardiaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    S. Central Europe to China
    Wildlife Value:
    4 Lepidopteran larvae depend on the Cotinus genus.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Easy to Grow
    Wildlife Larval Host
    Dimensions:
    Height: 10 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 10 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Multi-trunked
    Open
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    12-24 feet
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Small drupe, not showy, kidney shaped.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Pink
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Small, yellow flowers are inconspicuous but are cloudy wispy looking with pink hairs on flower stalks that form off of current season growth. Panicles are 6"-8" long providing a show in the summer. Panicles of smoky pink flowers.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Obovate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Medium blue-green in the summer turning yellow or red/purple in the fall. 1.5-3.5 in. Alternate, simple leaf with entire margins, parallel veins; yellow, red, purple fall color. Oval/obovate, rounded or slightly acute apex, well defined parallel veins, bluish-green, margins curl under slightly,
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    Young bark is smooth light gray becoming more rough with age.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Purple/Lavender
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Lenticels:
    Conspicuous
    Stem Description:
    Brown or purplish, multistemmed with many lenticels.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Cutting Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Flowering Tree
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Diseases
    Drought
    Insect Pests
    Problems:
    Contact Dermatitis
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Contact with the sap of the plant may cause contact dermatitis.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Urusiol
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    Yes
    Poison Part:
    Sap/Juice