Tree or shrub 3 - 4.5 m tall with similar spread Leaves: alternate, stalked, bluish green, 3 - 8.3 cm long, oval to inversely egg-shaped with a rounded to shallowly notched tip, non-toothed, parallel-veined. Fall color ranges from yellow to red to purple. Flowers: borne on a loosely branched inflorescence (panicle), yellowish, inconspicuous, five-petaled. The branched stalk of the inflorescence is covered with tiny hairy that become smoky pink. Fruit: tiny, kidney-shaped, dry with a center stone (drupe). Twigs: stout, brown to purplish, covered in a waxy whitish coating (glaucous), especially around the leaf scars. Center of twig cross section (pith) is orangish brown, releasing a strong odor when crushed. Buds: tiny with dark reddish brown overlapping scales. Form: upright and spreading with loose, open branching.
Similar species: Cotinus coggygria is distinct in the Chicago Region, but Cotinus obovatus, a native of Tennesee, Alabama, and Texas, is also grown as an ornamental. It differs from C. coggygria by having a taller (6 - 9.2 m), more tree-like form, orangish brown twigs, and larger leaves (7.5 - 15 cm long).
Flowering: late May to mid June
Habitat and ecology: This common ornamental plant introduced from Eurasia rarely escapes from cultivation. Specimens are found in DuPage County along the Illinois Prairie Path near Blackwell Forest Preserve.
Occurence in the Chicago region: non-native
Notes: Cotinus coggygria is grown as a landscape plant, with a number of purple-leaved cultivars available.
Etymology: Cotinus comes from the Greek name for the wild olive. Coggyria is the Greek name for the smoke-tree.
Author: The Morton Arboretum
Citation: The vPlants Project. vPlants: A Virtual Herbarium of the Chicago Region. http://www.vplants.org
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