Common Smoketree


Cotinus coggygria var. 'Royal Purple'

Leaves: Deciduous. The leaves are oval, 1-3” long, with rounded tips and smooth edges. The dark purple to rich maroon red foliage has red veins and stems. Late to leaf out in early summer. Yellow to red, purple, or scarlet fall color.

Bark/Twigs: Thin, gray, furrowed, and scaly bark.

Flowers/Fruit: Tiny, yellow, inconspicuous flowers are borne on 6-8” long clusters in May-June. The stalks of the flowers are very showy and hairy pink or purple. These hairy stalks are what actually give the plant its smoky pink color that resembles a puff of smoke. This smoky effect lasts from June to August. Fruit is a small berry (drupe), ⅛-¼” with a single seed.

Mature size and shape: Small. 10-15’h x 12-15’w. Often wider  than high, and usually has multiple stems. Upright, rounded, spreading, loose and open shape.

General information/special features: Plant in full sun for the best color and flowers.  Prefers a well-drained soil. Tolerates dry and rocky soils. Dioecious- has both male and female trees.

Landscape use and Maintenance: Good ornamental tree with purple summer foliage as a focal point. Average growing rate. Average maintenance. Can be planted under power lines. Can be heavily pruned or cut to the ground in late winter to produce vigorous shoot growth for better summer foliage color.

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-8

Family/Origin: Anacardiaceae – Cashew. A small tree or large shrub native from southern Europe to central China. 

Campus use: Common. Can be found on north side of Marriott Library (Bld 86) north of the Plaza area along the grass to University Bookstore (Bld 67).