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



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round


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



Bloom Color:


Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer



Other details:

This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds

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


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

Anniston, Alabama

Lisle, Illinois

Winnetka, Illinois

Clermont, Kentucky

Georgetown, Kentucky

Lexington, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky

Nicholasville, Kentucky

Plymouth, Massachusetts

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Saint Louis, Missouri

New Hampton, New Hampshire

Windham, 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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Nov 17, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

A tough, adaptable, attractive small tree native to N. America. It should be planted more often on difficult urban sites with good drainage.

Excellent fall color.

Tennessee has listed this native tree as one "of special concern" (diminishing but not yet endangered). Native range in 8 states, it's rare in 4 of them (BONAP).


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

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. It is native to various spots in the South. Morton Arboretum in northeast Illinois has a few good specimens in its Midwest Collection. They are all green in leaf while the Eurasian Smoketree has a number of cultivars with red-purple foliage all season long.


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.


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 )


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!!! :)


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.


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.


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.


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.


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