One of the wondrous sights this time of the year is the ethereal inflorescent pufflike panicles of smokebush or smoketree (Cotinus) flower heads. There are two species, our native Cotinus obovatus, a larger plant much used on the High Line Park in New York City and Cotinus coggygria, the European smokebush. This genus is in the Anacardiaceae family, cousins to poison ivy (Rhus or Toxicodendron species), cashew, mango, and pistachio.
Smokebushes do well in landscapes but are susceptible to Verticillium wilt disease, so prevent root stresses and injury to the extent possible. For added accents, try a purple-leaved smokebush, such as Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’. This time of year especially, enjoy.