Cotinus obovatus - American Smoke Tree

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Deer ResistantPart ShadeBird Friendly

American Smoke Tree
Cotinus obovatus

The common name comes not from its large greenish yellow flower clusters in June, but from the billowy, smoky pink plumes that follow the flowers. This is an easy to grow small tree or large shrub that will be happy in poor soil and is drought resistant once established. It has fantastic fall color in shades of yellow, orange, red and reddish purple. Looks great planted in groups in a shrub border and the long lasting display of ‘smoke’ makes it a showy accent plant.

  • 6-10' long panicles flower clusters resemble pink puffs of smoke
  • Amazing fall color scarlet, pumpkin-orange and purple
  • Tough enough to tolerate long droughts, heat, and dry and gravelly soils
  • Provides cover for birds and other wildlife
  • Moderate deer resistance

Native Range

The Ozark Mountains of Arkansas and adjacent Missouri and Oklahoma; also Kentucky and Tennessee to Alabama and Georgia and Edwards Plateau of Texas on hillsides, limestone outcrops and rocky woods.

Map Credit: The Biota of North America 
Map Key: Green (native), Teal (native, adventive), Blue (present), Yellow (present & rare), Red (extinct)

Interesting Facts


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.




American smoke tree prefers rocky, well-drained, limestone soils, sand, loam, or clay. Once it is established, it thrives on tough conditions and neglect and should not be over-watered. Rich soil and too much water may create a weak plant. 


Mature Size: 20-30' Tall x 20-30' Wide

Hardiness Zone: 4-8

Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade

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