American Smoketree (Cotinus obovatus)
Also called Chittamwood, the American Smoketree is a small, deciduous, rounded tree or large, upright shrub typically growing 20-30' tall. The leaves are oval or “obovate” which is where it gets the second part of its Latin name. The 4 to 8 inch leaves are a blue to blue green color during the season, but in the fall the Smoketree is perfectly capable of competing with the fancy smancy Maples for the title of best fall color. The fall foliage can be yellow, orange, amber, or even a really fine red purple. The greenish yellow inconspicuous flowers in early spring are not worth a second look, but then comes the smoke-like stalks from the dead flowers. The kidney bean shaped light brown fruit are also small and not of any ornamental value.
American Smoketree Choices
There few cultivars of the native Smoketree. Hopefully that will change. The only serious cultivar is Red Leaf, which is considered to have very good fall color.