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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple' - Royal Purple Smoke Tree

The purple smoke trees are small upright trees or multi-stemmed shrubs growing to about 8 - 15'. May be somewhat stiff if not pruned but generally pretty full. If pruned hard in spring the resulting growth will be very vigorous and very purple. It will not "smoke" however. Not a bad way to treat this plant if you really like large purple leaves.

The foliage is deep maroon in spring developing into a deep purple in summer. Leaves almost round in outline with petiole almost as long as the leaf blade. Often with a layer of wax on the surfaces of the leaves. 2-4" long, counting the petiole.

Fruit is a little cashew on the end of a thin stalk. Not very interesting. However the hairs that develop on the fruit stalks become very effective and give the plant it's common name of smoke tree.  When seen back lit they are very interesting. 

Flowers are very small, yellowish with some purple due to culivar. Flower stalks have hairs that grow after fertilization and which give the tree the smokey look.

Twigs are covered with a glaucous bloom. Looking purple with small white lenticles.

There are several other purple cultivars and a new yellow leaved one. This is a cultivar called 'Grace' and is actually a selection of the cross between the American smoke tree and the common smoke tree.

Misidentification: Not sure, look for the really long petioles, almost as long as the leaf blades. And of course the smoke in the fall.

Location: Lots,

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