Smoke Tree








Smoke Tree

(Cotinus coggygria)

Interesting Information About Plant:

The smoke tree is a relatively easy plant to grow which makes it a great shrub in all environments.  The tree grows irregularly as a shrub and can be trained to grow as a tree. They are easily transplanted and established as long as full sunlight is available. The trees are adaptable to pH and different soil types, and are also very tolerant of dry, hot, and gravity soils.

The name smoke tree comes from the trees panicles that are a "smokey" pink and can cover the entire tree at their peak. The actual flowers bloom in June and are small and yellow-green. The flowers are numerous, produced in large inflorescences with five pale yellow-green petals. The leaves turn a bright red-orange in the fall which makes the tree extremely showy in landscaping from early summer to late fall. The bark of the tree is also distinguishable by its waxy smooth texture and purple or brown bark. When the bark matures it gets broken up into small thin blocks, which turn light gray. The fruit of the plant is a kidney shaped dry fruit that is irrelevant to its appeal.

Common Name: Smoke tree

Scientific Name: Cotinus coggygria

Family Name (Scientific and Common): Anacardiaceae,   Mango/Cashew Family  

Continent of Origin:    Southern Europe to central China and Himalaya

Most Distinguishing Morphological Features of This Plant: Twigs brown and purple with a waxy bloom, lateral buds are small, long petiole, “smokey” panicles

Plant Growth Habit: Shrub 

Height at Maturity: More than 10 Feet

Life Span:  Perennial

Seasonal Habit: Deciduous Perennial

Growth Habitat: Full Sun

Manner of Culture: Landscape Shrub-Vine-Tree 

Thorns on Younger Stem? No

Cross Section of Younger Stem: Roundish

Stem (or Trunk) Diameter: Between The Diameter of a Pencil and a Broom-Handle 

Produces Brownish Bark? Yes

Bark Peeling in Many Areas? No

Characteristics of Mature (Brownish) Bark: Smooth Bark

Type of Leaf:  Flat, Thin Leaf

Length of Leaf (or Leaflet): Between the Length of a Credit Card and a Writing-Pen

Leaf Complexity: Simple

Shape of Leaf: Simple

Edge of Leaf:  Smooth

Leaf Arrangement: Alternate

Leaf has Petiole?  Yes

Patterns of Main-Veins:  Parallel   

Leaf Hairiness:  No Hairs

Color of Foliage in Summer: Green /  Bluish

Change in Color of Foliage in October:  Changes to Reddish-Orange

Flowering Season: summer

Flowers:  in Loose Group  

Type of Flower:  Catkin

Color of Flower: Multicolored 

Shape of Individual Flower: Radially Symmetrical

Size of Individual Flower: Smaller than a Quarter

Sexuality: Male and Female Flowers on Separate Plants

Size of Fruit: Smaller than a Quarter

Fruit Fleshiness at Maturity: Dry

Shape of Fruit: Oblong-Oval

Color of Fruit at Maturity: Brown or Dry

Fruit Desirable to Birds or Squirrels?  No

Is the Plant Poisonous: None of Plant

Pesty Plant (weedy, hard to control)? No

Common Name(s):    Smoke tree, Smoke bush, Wig-tree

Louisville Plants That Are Most Easily Confused With This One:

Page prepared by:


Charmayne Adams


December, 2006



Information - 502.452.8000
© Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY 2002-2004