American Smoketree, or Cotinus obovatus, is an ornamental plant in its own right. A tough tree, it grows naturally in rocky outcroppings in the lower Midwest. The flowers are insignificant, but the billowy hairs attached to the elongated stalks of the spent flower clusters turn a smoky, purplish-pink in midsummer, giving the tree a most unusual and attractive appearance. This 'floral' effect is on show for weeks. The soft-green foliage turns a pleasing mid-green in late summer. The American Smoketree exhibits excellent fall color (actually it produces some of the best fall color of our native trees and shrubs), features corky bark, and shows a toleration for high PH soils and difficult growing conditions.So why isn't this tree used more?...Indifferent plantsmen and naive public... This tough little performer is one of those horticultural secrets. Plant one and enjoy. Grows 20'-30' tall with an equal-sized spread.
Many gardeners are familiar with the inferior European Smokebushes with their purple and blue leaves, but the gentle, lime-colored foliage of the American Smoketree is easily superior. Show off the foliage by planting among and in front of plants with darker-colored foliage. Flowering on the Smoketree occurs in mid- to late-summer; use it to liven up the tired, season-worn landscape. American Smoketree has a medium texture that allows it to blend with a wide variety of other plants.
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