Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Smoke Tree
Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple'

Family: Anacardiaceae (an-a-kard-ee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cotinus (ko-TYE-nus) (Info)
Species: coggygria (kog-GY-gree-uh) (Info)
Cultivar: Royal Purple

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

22 members have or want this plant for trade.


12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)
15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Seed is poisonous if ingested
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction
Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


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

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From softwood cuttings
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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12 positives
4 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive bonster On May 25, 2012, bonster from Tulsa, OK wrote:

I'm not an accomplished gardener but I do love to see things grow. In the fall of 2010, I had landscaping done around my suburban Tulsa, OK home and had a Royal Purple Smoke Tree planted in my back yard in full sun. OK had a dismally hot summer in 2011 and a warm winter 2011-12. This spring, my tree went crazy! It has more blooms than ever. It is about 3X the size it was when planted 1.5 years ago. It's beautiful, though it has not kept a deep purple color in its leaves, except for new leaves. I love it! It gets watered regularly with the yard sprinklers but last year I watered it profusely in hopes it would stand the heat. It did! I have pruned it a couple of times since planting but it grows profusely.

Positive 7826 On Jul 18, 2011, 7826 from Ormond Beach, FL wrote:

I simply love this is sooooo gorgeous.
I recently visited my daughter in Washington state....had to have this one. Purchased 3....2 purple smoke and 1 golden.
I have had them for 6 far all are doing well. I did not put them directly in the ground because of the intense heat here in Ormond Beach Florida. They are thriving in far so good...will keep you posted.
Ormond Beach, Fl.

Positive Marcelde On Jul 18, 2011, Marcelde from Cheshire, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

This "tree" (bush) grew well to about 6 feet for perhaps five years. It seemed to die completely, for no apparent reason, at the end of 2010 but now in the spring of 2011 is throwing new leaves from the base.

I live in the coastal foothills of Oregon and get about 60 inches of rain. It is planted in the sunniest spot available.

Positive themikeman On Apr 7, 2011, themikeman from Concord, NC (Zone 7a) wrote:

Royal Purple Smoke tree is a wonderful, but it does not like the intense heat of the Southeast unless you are elevated in the mountains..i live in the piedmont of nc where it is fairly flat and hot, and it almost never blooms for me because it gets cooked to death almost every year by the intense heat..make sure if your in a hot area of the country to plant it in a shady area and also maybe a roomy one where it can get big..mike.

Neutral jjschlut On Jul 19, 2010, jjschlut from Yukon, OK wrote:

I have this tree in my yard. The house is a new purchase and it is planted about 6 feet from the house. What is the root system of this tree like?

Positive Ketta On Apr 11, 2010, Ketta from Portland, OR wrote:

Wonderful, hardy little tree. Grows well here in Oregon in sunny locations.

Most of my experience with it is where I grew up in the rural areas of Yakima, WA. It grows wild there; my mother dug up a tree growing in a pasture, and with our care went from 3 feet to 6 feet in about 2 years. They seem to thrive in the Eastern Washington climate of typically cold, dry winters with plenty of snow, warm but windy springs and hot, dry summers. By April, they're fully leafed and the smoky buds are profuse and ready to explode.

In Oregon they're a bit more reserved unless they're in a sunny location (sun almost all day) and the spring isn't too wet. This year (2010) for example, it's almost mid April, we've had far more rain and cloudy days than sunny, and the leaf buds are just starting to open on my small tree. It's taken 2 years to go from an 18" start from my mother's yard to not quite 3 feet in an area that gets 6 hours of sun. The smoky flowers are much smaller than I remember from my mother's tree.

I've found they start from seed easily enough, but if you're in an area that they seem to grow wild in, taking a sample seems the way to go. I see several on my daily walks along the banks of the Columbia River.

Love these unique trees...they definitely add a lot of character to any garden, with they're pale grey branches, dark burgandy leaves and the smoky blooms.

Positive northgrass On Jul 24, 2009, northgrass from West Chazy, NY (Zone 4b) wrote:

I just love the foliage of this shrub, red purple on top with greenish underside that show in the breeze.
It suffers quite a bit of die back here in zone 5a but since I do not really admire the smoke that is produced on last year growth, it is fine with me.
I cut it back about one foot from the ground in early Spring. By the end of Summer it is full and at least 6 feet tall with large healthy leaves that really stand out. If you like purple foliage in your landscape, do consider this shrub.

Positive pearliescot On Jun 22, 2009, pearliescot from Plymouth, In.
United States wrote:

Planted 2 Purple Leaf Smoke trees 3 yrs. ago and they are beautiful. They are close to 6ft. tall. But would prefer that they not grow any taller. They bloomed about 3 weeks ago, and is now the time to prune them? So hope you can answer my question. Thank you Lila

Neutral dblough On Jul 24, 2008, dblough from Punxsutawney, PA wrote:

I have a purple smoke tree planted for about five years. Nice shape and color but it never maintains its bloom and I have no "smoke" look. It blooms every year but loses it all within a week and I am left with a spindly stick instead of bloom. I thought it was deer damage or early frost but have ruled that out.

Positive filthpig On Sep 10, 2007, filthpig from Avon Lake, OH wrote:

I love this plant. I never really saw it in Illinois, but here in Ohio it is popular. By looking at its characteristics I am guessing relatively fast.

Positive WUVIE On May 12, 2007, WUVIE from Hulbert, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Years ago, my gosh, I believe it was probably 1995, I bought two dinky little wanna-be sticks about six inches tall from a company through the mail. Thank goodness for Dave's Garden Watchdog these days.

Anyhow. I planted the trees and basically ignored them for the last twelve years. They have done nothing more than survive, which makes me all the happier, because today is moving day for them.

If they can survive being stuck out in an unattended section of the circle drive through drought, ice storms, surprise spring frosts and worse, then just think what beauty is ours to behold once they are transplanted!

In digging, I was shocked to see what a minimal root system they had. Keep in mind they have not been cared for, so I'm certain a tree with proper upkeep would have a much larger rooting.

I'd have to say these little guys deserve a place in the landscape. One is now proudly standing in my daylily circle garden and the other one, well, as soon as I finish my tea break I'll dig him up for relocation as well.

:-) Karen Marie

Positive mrs_colla On Apr 20, 2007, mrs_colla from Marin, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

What a most beautiful leaf colour!!!!
It needs to be pruned well, if left unattended it can grow in an ugly form. My neighbours didn't prune theirs, and it looks monstrous!

Update September 21, 2007

Some of the leaves are going green, but fall colour is starting too.
Neutral Tcl On Aug 14, 2006, Tcl from Duluth, MN wrote:

I am trying to propagate a few cuttings. I have put root start medium on them. I guess the only thing left to do is tent them (and create a greenhouse effect.)

Neutral Newf29 On Jul 31, 2006, Newf29 from Ottawa
Canada wrote:

I am trying to propagate a Smoke Tree from cuttings. I have placed the cuttings in various combinations such as plain water, fertilized water, soil. I have placed the cuttings under lights indoors. So far I have not had any good results in producing roots on the cuttings. The leaves are drying out and the cuttings are looking very poor.

Positive rh3708 On Dec 30, 2004, rh3708 from Westmoreland, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

A lovely tree. I like the color of the foliage and I wish it would keep its leaves year-round; they fall too soon for me.

Positive henryr10 On Sep 22, 2004, henryr10 from Cincinnati, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

The nice thing on the 'Smoke' is that it takes well to pruning. If left alone it is a very pretty 15 foot or so tree. For the space challenged... pruned back to about 12 inches every spring it makes a gorgeous shrub.

The only thing a can fine wrong w/ it is that it does lose its leaves very early here, even earlier than the Black Walnuts. But that can be a plus to anything planted beneath them.


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

Victoria Harbour,
Anniston, Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama
Lillian, Alabama
Benton, Arkansas
Sorrento, British Columbia
Clayton, California
Encinitas, California
Fairfield, California
Manteca, California
Martinez, California
Phelan, California
Pismo Beach, California
Rohnert Park, California
San Anselmo, California
Visalia, California
Denver, Colorado (3 reports)
Glastonbury, Connecticut
Wilmington, Delaware
Cordele, Georgia
Belleville, Illinois
Hanna City, Illinois
Homewood, Illinois
Niles, Illinois
Plymouth, Indiana
Rensselaer, Indiana
Davenport, Iowa
Dubuque, Iowa
Wichita, Kansas
Boxford, Massachusetts
Dracut, Massachusetts
Franklin, Massachusetts
Ludington, Michigan
Duluth, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Florence, Mississippi
Natchez, Mississippi
Grandview, Missouri
Moberly, Missouri
Saint Joseph, Missouri
Saint Louis, Missouri
Saint Peters, Missouri
Polson, Montana
Lincoln, Nebraska
Sparks, Nevada
Bedford, New Hampshire
Roswell, New Mexico
Copake, New York
Columbus, North Carolina
Concord, North Carolina
Vale, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio (2 reports)
Cleveland, Ohio (2 reports)
Columbus, Ohio
Lakeview, Ohio
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Cheshire, Oregon
Coos Bay, Oregon
Klamath Falls, Oregon
La Grande, Oregon
Portland, Oregon (2 reports)
Saint Helens, Oregon
Allentown, Pennsylvania
Canonsburg, Pennsylvania
Coatesville, Pennsylvania
Kintnersville, Pennsylvania
Lincoln University, Pennsylvania
Norristown, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Quakertown, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Conway, South Carolina
Arlington, Tennessee
Lafayette, Tennessee
Loretto, Tennessee
Austin, Texas (2 reports)
Belton, Texas
Grapevine, Texas
Iredell, Texas
Plano, Texas
Royse City, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Tremonton, Utah
Newport News, Virginia
Bellingham, Washington
Bremerton, Washington
East Port Orchard, Washington
Elma, Washington
Kirkland, Washington
Puyallup, Washington
Yakima, Washington
Vienna, West Virginia
Onalaska, Wisconsin

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