- Kingdom: Plantae
- Order: Sapindales
- Family: Anacardiaceae
- Genus: Cotinus
The smoke tree is a small tree that is approximately 15 feet in height as well as width, with the trunk being between 8 to 15 inches in diameter. When the tree begins to flower, the foliage appears like a puff of smoke. This appearance can be attributed to the panicles, which are branched clusters of flowers. Due to this appearance, it is generally classified as an ornamental tree.
This tree has small and smooth leaves that are round in shape. Different species change their leaf colors to different hues during fall. Some colors are red, yellow, purple, and orange. The leaves have red veins at the edges. When they are crushed, they smell like a crushed orange peel. The fruit is a drupe, which means that it is fleshy on the outside, with a pit and seed in the middle. It is irregular in shape, brown in color, and approximately half an inch in size.
The flowering period of this tree is from late spring to early summer. It usually begins to flower around June and continues till August. When planting it for the first time, choose a spot that gets either full sunlight or partial shade. It grows well if it gets enough sunlight. This tree has minimum growth requirements.
It also remains free of pests and insects, thus, proving to be a potential option for gardens and parks. With regards to the type of soil it requires, it can do well in all kinds of soil if it is well-drained. It does not require much moisture; in fact, it can resist drought conditions as well as a wet soil and climate. It is actually observed that the tree grows well in unproductive soil, thus, facilitating the use of barren soil to get something fruitful. Moreover, when planted in fertile soil, the tree grows up to become huge with an unhealthy foliage, a short life, and is susceptible to diseases. The growth rate of this tree is medium.
Although this tree may require minimal care, it does need a little pruning once in a while like all trees. However, prune the tree after it has flowered and not beforehand, as it may not bloom if pruned too much. The blooms are the best feature of this tree, and hence, prune it after it has bloomed. Pruning ensures a stronger growth of the tree. This tree grows well in hardiness zones 4 to 9. Although some basic care and pruning may be required, this tree is quite low in maintenance.
This tree can be used for decorative purposes as it has the pink, red, or purple inflorescence, which can enhance the beauty of your patio or garden. You can also use the coppice of the plant as a fence for your garden or property. If you have a patch of barren land, plant this tree on it and add some vegetation to that part of the land instead of keeping it empty and prone to erosion.
This tree is prone to a fungal disease known as Verticillium wilt, due to which the tree eventually dies. In this plant disease, the leaves curl inwards and droop or bend, not regaining their original shape. The branches of the tree may also be affected by the wilt, making it important to chop them off, lest they spread the disease to the entire tree.
Another health issue that this tree is affected by is powdery mildew. This disease is a result of a fungal infection. The leaves are covered with a whitish-gray-colored powdery substance. This disease also spreads to the stems and flowers of the tree. This powdery substance takes up the nutrients from the plant, thus, hampering its growth.
The smoke tree comes in many varieties. Most of these types show similar characteristics with a few variations related to the colors of the foliage and inflorescence. Some of the varieties are listed below.
The leaves of this variety are green with red on top. It bears pink-colored blooms. In autumn, the leaves can turn red or orange in color. This tree grows well in hardiness zones 5 to 9.
The leaves of this variety range between dark-red to purple in color. The leaves turn a bright, scarlet red in autumn. This tree grows well in hardiness zones 5 to 9.
The color of the leaves is bright golden. They change colors into shades of red or orange in autumn. This tree grows well in hardiness zones 4 to 8.
The color of the leaves is a dark purple. The leaves transform into reddish-orange shades in autumn. This tree grows well in hardiness zones 5 to 9.
During the fall season, the smoke tree makes for a colorful picture. Since both the leaves and flowers display such bright colors, the tree adds character to the place where it has grown.