AUBURN, Ala. – One of Alabama’s treasures is the Smoketree. This tree is steadily gaining popularity and can be seen all across the state.
“As a result of selective breeding, the Smoketree has become popular in many landscapes throughout the state,” said Eric Schavey, an Alabama Extension regional agent of home grounds, gardens and home pests.
Also referred to as a Smokebush, the scientific name for the tree is Cotinus coggygria ‘Purpureus’. Most people recognize it by its common names, the Alabama Smoke or Yellowwood tree. These common names from the transformation the tree undertakes in the fall and spring.
People wanting to plant this tree should be aware that there is another tree found in Alabama known as a Yellowwood. When wanting information about the Smoketree, look for the scientific name above if you are unsure if it is the correct information.
Schavey explained that the tree’s distinguishing features include small, yellow-white blossoms that feather into lavender-pink puffs of smoke. The tree blooms a purple foliage that turns green in the spring, and has orange, red and yellow blends in the fall. Those wanting a tree for a small landscape might want to consider another tree. The Smoketree at maturity reaches heights of 10 to 12 feet and 10 to 12 feet wide.
The tree grows best in zone areas 4-7, which contain a poor, rocky to average garden soil with good drainage. The Smoke Tree also tolerates alkalinity. It needs full sun exposure to have a healthy growth rate of 12 to 24 inches a year.
“If you are interested in growing a Smoke Tree, beware of deer that love to browse the leaves,” Schavey said. “It is important to not overwater this tree. It responds well to regular pruning.”
Homeowners and gardeners should note that this tree looks great planted in groups or in a shrub border. The long lasting display of ‘smoke’ makes it a showy accent plant. Check your local nurseries to find more information about purchasing a Smoke Tree.