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American Smoketree Cotinus obovatus


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American Smoketree
© Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

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Alternate name: Yellowwood, Chittamwood

Family: Anacardiaceae, Cashew view all from this family

Description Upright, small tree or multi-trunked shrub, growing 15-30 ft. tall. Leaves deciduous, alternate, simple oval shape, 3-13 cm. long. Flowers clustered in large open terminal panicles 15-30 cm. long with fluffy grayish-buff appearance resembling a cloud of smoke over plant. Berries occur on pinkish stems; also having smoke-like look. Limb structure gnarled, dark. Bark flaking. Fruit small drupe with single seed.

Dimensions Height: 9 m. (30 ft.)
Diameter: 0.3 m. (1 ft.).

Habitat Mountains, Canyons & valleys.

Range Plains, Texas, Southeast.

Discussion Anacardiaceae family, closely related to sumacs.

Comments Cotinus obovatus is ornamental in every season. Drought- and disease-tolerant, once this plant is established it thrives on tough conditions and neglect. Rich soil and too much water may create a weak plant. Male trees have larger, showier flower clusters than females.

Exposure Preference Sun.

Flower May - July

Native Distribution Ozark Mts. of Arkansas & adjacent Missouri & Oklahoma; also Kentucky, s. to Alabama & Georgia; Texas

Site Preference Hillsides; limestone outcrops; rocky woods

Soil Preference Rocky, limestone soils.

Wildlife Value Browsed by wildlife.