Cotinus

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Smoke Tree
Smoketree with "Smokey" look.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Cotinus
Adans.
Species

Cotinus coggygria
Cotinus obovatus

Smoketree or Smoke bush (Cotinus /kˈtnəs/)[1] is a genus of two species of flowering plants in the family Anacardiaceae, closely related to the sumacs (Rhus).

Characteristics[edit]

They are large shrubs or small trees, native to the warm temperate northern hemisphere. The leaves are deciduous, alternate, simple oval shape, 3–13 cm long. The flowers are clustered in a large open terminal panicles 15–30 cm long with a fluffy grayish-buff appearance resembling a cloud of smoke over the plant, from which the name derives. The fruit is a small drupe with a single seed. Often classified in Rhus in the past, they are distinguished by the leaves being simple (not pinnate) and the 'smoke-like' fluffy flower heads.

Growth[edit]

The American Smoketree (Cotinus obovatus, syn. Rhus cotinoides) is native to the southeastern United States, from Tennessee south to Alabama and west to eastern Texas. It is a larger plant, frequently becoming a small tree between 3 to 5 meters (10 to 15 feet) tall, with a trunk from 20 to 35 centimeters (8 to 14 inches) in diameter. The leaves are also larger, 6–13 cm long; it also has varied but very bright fall color, usually brighter than the Eurasian species. The flower heads are usually sparser than in C. coggygria.

Cultivation and uses[edit]

The smoke trees, particularly C. coggygria, are popular garden shrubs. Several bronze or purple-leaved cultivars of C. coggygria have been selected, with warm pink inflorescences set against purple-black foliage; the most common in commerce are 'Notcutt's Variety' and 'Royal Purple'. When brought into cultivation together, the two species will form hybrids; some garden cultivars are of this parentage.

Cultivation is best in dry, infertile soils, which keeps the growth habit more compact and also improves the autumn colour; when planted in fertile soil, they become large, coarse and also tend to be short-lived, succumbing to verticillium wilt disease. Both species can be coppiced in early spring, to produce first-year shoots up to 2 m tall with large handsome leaves, but no "smoke".

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607

External links[edit]