Cotinus coggygria atropurpurea (Red Smoketree) is a deciduous shrub or small tree known for its attractive foliage and unique smoky appearance. It is native to southern Europe, central China, and the Himalayas. Red Smoketree is a medium-sized shrub or small tree that typically reaches a height of 3 to 5 meters (10 to 16 feet) with a similar spread. It has a rounded, bushy habit with arching branches. The most distinctive feature of this plant is its foliage, which is deep purple or reddish-purple in color. The leaves are oval-shaped, slightly serrated, and have a velvety texture.
Flowers: In early summer, Red Smoketree produces small, inconspicuous yellow-green flowers in clusters. While the flowers themselves are not showy, it is the inflorescence that gives the plant its unique smoky appearance. The clusters are composed of numerous fine, thread-like filaments that elongate and develop a cloud-like, smoky appearance, ranging in color from pinkish-purple to purplish-gray. These smoky clusters persist on the plant for an extended period, providing visual interest.
Growing Conditions: Red Smoketree is known for its adaptability to various growing conditions. It prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil but can tolerate a wide range of soil types, including sandy or clay soils. It is relatively drought-tolerant once established but benefits from regular watering during dry periods.
Landscape Use: Red Smoketree is commonly used in landscaping for its ornamental value. The deep purple foliage and smoky inflorescences provide a striking contrast and focal point in gardens and landscapes. It can be used as a specimen plant, in mixed borders, or as a foundation planting. The shrub's unique appearance adds a touch of drama and beauty to any landscape design.
Pruning: Pruning of Red Smoketree is typically done in early spring before new growth begins. It can be pruned to maintain its shape, remove dead or damaged branches, or to control its size. Light pruning is generally sufficient to keep the plant in good condition.
Fall Color: In addition to its colorful foliage and smoky inflorescences, Red Smoketree offers a showy display of fall colors. As the season changes, the purple leaves often transition to shades of orange, red, and yellow, adding further visual interest to the plant.
Wildlife Value: The flowers of Red Smoketree attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies. The shrub also provides cover and nesting sites for birds. However, it is not a significant food source for wildlife.
Red Smoketree, Cotinus coggygria atropurpurea, is a stunning ornamental plant that adds a touch of drama and beauty to gardens and landscapes. Its deep purple foliage, unique smoky inflorescences, and fall colors make it a captivating choice for those seeking an eye-catching and low-maintenance shrub.