American Smoketree Cotinus obovatus

Detailed Listing For
Botanical Name:

Cotinus obovatus







Common Name:

American Smoketree

20 to 30 feet
Minimum Hardiness Zone:

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  • Cotinus obovatus

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Growing Info, follow in order:
Scarification: Soak in hot tap water, let stand in water for 12 hours.
Stratification: cold stratify for 150 days.
Germination: sow seed 1/8" deep , tamp the soil, keep moist, mulch the seed bed, , can be sown outdoors in the fall for spring germination.
Other: if boiling water treatment does not allow seed to imbibe, sulfuric acid treatment is required.
In a Nutshell:
* American smoketree is a small, deciduous, rounded, Missouri native tree or large, upright shrub typically growing 20-30' tall and occurring on limestone glades, rocky limestone bluffs and bald knobs in the area of the White River in southeast Missouri. Smoketree gets its common name not from the 6-10" flower clusters (tiny, insignificant, dioecious, yellowish-green flowers) which bloom in June, but from the billowy hairs (attached to elongated stalks on the spent flower clusters) which turn a smoky pink to purplish pink in summer, thus covering the tree with fluffy, hazy, smoke-like puffs. Bluish green leaves are, as the species name suggests, obovate. Foliage turns a variety of colors in the fall (including yellow, red, orange and reddish purple), and produces some of the best fall color of any of the native American trees and shrubs.
* A tree or large shrub, "may be the best of all American shrub trees for intensity of [fall] color" (Dirr), which is yellow, orange, and reddish purple, gray or gray-brown bark, likes lime, native to southeast U.S. more...
* Tolerates most soils. Prefers a well-drained soil in a sunny position, doing better in a soil that is not very rich. Tolerates light shade. Plants are hardy to about -15°c, though die-back often occurs at the tips of shoots during the winter.
* A very ornamental plant. The young leaves have an aromatic fragrance when bruised.
* This species is in danger of extinction in the wild due to its being cut down for use in making a dye, this occurred especially during the N. American civil war. more...
* Best when massed or grouped in the shrub border. Long-lasting, summer "smoke" display makes this a striking accent plant. more...
* Native to rocky, usually mountain soils from Kentucky, Tennessee, and northern Alabama west to Oklahoma, with disjunct populations in a few counties of central Texas, Cotinus obovatus is an outstanding small, ornamental tree. Its bark is decorative, its leaves are soothing blue-green in spring and summer and flaming oranges and reds in fall, and its flowers form ethereal clouds of pink and purple in spring. more...