Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: American Smoketree, Chittamwood, Wild Smoke Tree, Yellow Wood
Cotinus obovatus

Family: Anacardiaceae (an-a-kard-ee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cotinus (ko-TYE-nus) (Info)
Species: obovatus (ob-oh-VAY-tus) (Info)

Synonym:Cotinus americanus
Synonym:Rhus cotinoides

4 vendors have this plant for sale.

4 members have or want this plant for trade.


20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From softwood cuttings
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 33 photos.
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6 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Rickwebb On Oct 26, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

Today I saw some maturing plants planted at Jenkins Arboretum in part shade, as this site is full of big trees. They had a nice golden fall color in the part shade. Looks like a nice American native large shrub or small tree from spots in the South.

Positive plantaholic186 On Dec 9, 2010, plantaholic186 from Winnetka, IL wrote:

Such a beautiful tree. The first to change color in my garden, at the beginning of September! The colors start off peach and turn hot orange and then red. Stunning.
This is a very slow growing tree, unlike the smokebush Cotinus coggygria.

Neutral heygeno On Oct 4, 2010, heygeno from Columbus, OH wrote:

This plant started growing from a stone wall I built about 20 years ago and I just figured that the seed came from all the mulching I do every year from wood chips I get from tree service.
I cut it all the way back every year --and it just keeps coming ! I like the purple much more. ( z 5 )

Positive AngelaChurch On Jan 13, 2010, AngelaChurch from Patea
New Zealand wrote:

I bought my current property seven months ago and have finally identified my Cotinus obovatus by emailing a photo to Rhys Caunter at Trees R Us here in New Zealand! My tree is very, very old. It has fallen down some time ago. Of the three original branches, two remain growing. I'm from Nova Scotia originally and have been sort of stuck here due to the Hague Convention for the Child for a long time so to find another NA native here is just, like, far out, man!!! :)

Positive Malus2006 On Apr 3, 2008, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

The rarest tree in the plant trade - two are found on the University of Minnesota St. Paul Campus but I hadn't seen them anywhere else.

Positive Decumbent On Oct 28, 2006, Decumbent from Cincinnati, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

Exceptional foliage in all seasons, but especially in fall. This tree seems prone to verticilium wilt and therefore needs to be planted in dry soil.

Neutral nick89 On Feb 6, 2005, nick89 from Tallahassee, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

An intresting small, frequently contorted tree of limestone uplands that is common in some places here and rare to nonexisistent in others. Flowers are not very showy. The second or third largest specimen in Madison County, Alabama resides in the woods behind my house.

Positive lupinelover On Jan 13, 2003, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

This species grows bigger than the more common purple smokebush. Its leaves are green, its "smoke" is much bigger, more colorful, and persists into winter, giving a long season of interest. Seeds readily germinate when ripe, they can be sown immediately or stored; stratification not needed.

Neutral smiln32 On Aug 31, 2001, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Grow in average, medium wet, well-drained soil in full sun. Adaptable to wide range of soils, including poor rocky soils, but prefers well-drained, somewhat infertile loams


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Anniston, Alabama
Winnetka, Illinois
Clermont, Kentucky
Georgetown, Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Nicholasville, Kentucky
Plymouth, Massachusetts
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Saint Louis, Missouri
New Hampton, New Hampshire
Cincinnati, Ohio (2 reports)
Columbus, Ohio
Cheshire, Oregon
Berwyn, Pennsylvania
Austin, Texas
Iredell, Texas
Plano, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Alexandria, Virginia
Lexington, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia
Waterford, Wisconsin

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