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Smokebush Cotinus coggygria

Other Common Name(s):

Other plants called Smokebush:

Previously known as:

  • Cotinus cinereus
  • Cotinus coriarius
  • Cotinus ellipticus
  • Rhus cotina
Phonetic Spelling
ko-TYE-nus kog-GY-gree-uh
Description

Cotinus coggygria is an upright spreading deciduous shrub or small tree in the cashew family. It prefers to grow in full sun as its leaves will revert back to green in the shade, and it tolerates a range of soil pH and soil types. and provides a wide range of garden interest throughout the season. Different cultivars may have different color foliage which will change to shades of bright orange and yellow in the fall.

The flowers are showy, whispy, and airy. They consist of many filaments which make up a cloud of color on the current season's growth. The color of the flowering is largely a smoky pink to light purplish-pink which is dependent on the cultivar. In the garden, this plant is best used as a large accent plant or single specimen.  You can prune it back to the ground in late winter and have it form an informal hedge.  Even if you do not want a hedge you can prune the plant back to 6"-8" above the ground to rejunivate the form but you will not get any flowers that year.  If you would like to have flowers then leave 1/3 of the old stems on the plant.

This plant has a fibrous root system which is easy to transplant, and is drought tolerant but can be damaged by deer.

It has many cultivars but the flowers are often sacrificed for the interesting foliage color in these cases.

Quick ID Hints:

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

Blooms early to mid-summer, male is showier, unique wispy smoke look when flowering. Fall foliage is reddish-purple. In summer, a broken leaf smells like a radish. 

Prefers well-drained soil but is adaptable to wide range of pH, prefers sun. Pest/disease free.

Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Ancot'
  • 'Daydream'
    Dark green
  • 'Pink Champange'
    Orange pink leaves
  • 'Royal Purple'
    Noted for deep purple almost black foliage during the growing season
Tags:
#showy flowers#fall color#small tree#full sun#drought tolerant#shrub#easy to grow#wildlife plant#tree#colorful#low maintenance#accent plant#interesting leaves#flowering tree#hedges#fast growing#cpp#deer resistant#smoketree#smokebush#fantz#larval host plant#dendrology
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Ancot'
  • 'Daydream'
    Dark green
  • 'Pink Champange'
    Orange pink leaves
  • 'Royal Purple'
    Noted for deep purple almost black foliage during the growing season
Tags:
#showy flowers#fall color#small tree#full sun#drought tolerant#shrub#easy to grow#wildlife plant#tree#colorful#low maintenance#accent plant#interesting leaves#flowering tree#hedges#fast growing#cpp#deer resistant#smoketree#smokebush#fantz#larval host plant#dendrology
  • 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
    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
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Multi-trunked
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • 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
    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, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 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:
    Summer
    Flower Description:
    Small, yellow flowers are inconspicuous but are cloudy whispy 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:
    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 Description:
    Brown or purplish, many lenticels.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Flowering Tree
    Hedge
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought