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Cotinus, American Smoketree, Purple Smoke Tree 'Royal Purple'

Cotinus coggygria

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



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Foliage Color:



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)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone

Can be grown as an annual


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:


Medium Purple

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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


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

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

Fergus Falls, 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

Victoria Harbour, Ontario

Cheshire, Oregon

Coos Bay, Oregon

Klamath Falls, Oregon

La Grande, Oregon

Portland, Oregon(2 reports)

Saint Helens, Oregon

Allentown, Pennsylvania

Camp Hill, Pennsylvania

Canonsburg, Pennsylvania

Coatesville, Pennsylvania

Kintnersville, Pennsylvania

Lincoln University, Pennsylvania

Norristown, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Quakertown, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Zelienople, 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

South Jordan, Utah

Tremonton, Utah

Newport News, Virginia

Bellingham, Washington

Bremerton, Washington

East Port Orchard, Washington

Elma, Washington

Kirkland, Washington

Parkwood, Washington

Port Orchard, Washington

Puyallup, Washington

Yakima, Washington

Vienna, West Virginia

Onalaska, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On May 20, 2017, Machisen from Fergus Falls, MN wrote:

I first saw a purple smoke tree, Velvet Cloak, on a trip to Duluth, MN, and thought, "I have to have one!" We live in west central Minnesota, so we knew our cold climate is borderline: a 4a according to the latest USDA Hardiness Zones. But our Velvet Cloak has done very well since we planted it near our garage entrance in 2012. 5 years and going strong. It takes pruning extremely well and makes a great accent in our front yard. I'm ready to plant one in the back yard now. I highly recommend it.


On May 21, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

A superb shrub for its burgundy leaf color, which shines like stained glass when back-lit by the sun.

Adaptable, easy, and vigorous where happy. Requires good drainage. Performs best in full sun but will tolerate part shade.

Uniquely versatile in its shape---can be coppiced or pollarded or grown as a standard, or you can change your mind and transform it through hard pruning in early spring. Spring-pruned stems will not flower or "smoke", but I think that's a small loss.

The flowers are yellow, but they're small and not very showy. The hairy infructescences constitute the pinkish purple "smoke".

Propagated by rooting cuttings. Seed-propagated plants do not come true.

Some people may react to the sap with a dermatit... read more


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.


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

I simply love this tree....it 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 weeks....so 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 pots...so far so good...will keep you posted.
Ormond Beach, Fl.


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.


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.


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?


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... read more


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.


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 [email protected]


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.


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.


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 f... read more


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.


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.)


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.


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.


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.