American smoketree Cotinus obovatus
You may be more familiar with this small tree’s better-known relative, the common smokebush. But this North American native is raking in rave reviews because of its incandescent fall color.
The blue-green leaves and pale yellow-green flowers are not as showy as its colorful cousin’s, but American smoketree far outshines it in fall. That’s when the foliage turns vibrant shades of yellow, orange, red and even purple. Many folks consider this the best fall color of any native tree or shrub. And the show doesn’t stop when fall ends, winter is when you can see American’s smoketree’s beautiful gray to gray-brown bark. As the tree gets older, the bark will become rough and scaly, especially on the main trunks.
Sometimes a bit hard to find in nurseries, you’ll find this tree online at Mason Hollow Nursery. Give it a spot with good drainage. It’ll even tolerate poor conditions and is often found growing in gravelly alkaline soil.
TYPE Tree BLOOM Pale yellow-green in late spring LIGHT Full sun SOIL Moist, well-drained PESTS None SIZE 20 to 30 ft. tall and wide HARDINESS Cold: USDA zones 4 to 8, Heat: AHS zones 8 to 1
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