Smokebush or smoketree (Cotinus) is puffing away right now, providing the almost ethereal inflorescences that give it its name and alternates such as cloud bush, mist tree, wig tree, and Jupiter’s beard.
Two species are used in landscaping, our native Cotinus obovatus, a la rger 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, cousin to sumacs – ornamental and poisonous versions - poison ivy (Rhus or Toxicodendron species), cashew, mango, and pistachio.
There are a number of wonderful European smokebush cultivars, such as ‘Grace’ and ‘Royal Purple’. . There are few serious problems, except for Verticillium wilt disease. Japanese beetles love to entwine themselves into the spidery floral webs.
The large, airy flower panicles may reach a foot across, and fruits include one seed apiece. Check out their hairy, Greek-god-like, manes. Poof and before too long, they shall be gone. There are few serious problems, except for Verticillium wilt disease.