A comprehensive database of Tennessee native plants
American Smoketree, Chittamwood
Cotinus obovatus ( C. americanus)
Full sun; medium to dry moisture level; tolerates a wide range of soils including rocky, coarse gravels and sands, shallow soils over sandstone or limestone to moderately fine sandy loam, and clay; pH adaptable.
15-30 feet height by 8-15 feet spread; greenish to yellow green flowers in spring; pinkish gray to red berries 1/8 inch in diameter in fall.
Growth Rate: Medium
Maintenance: Infrequent disease and insect problems. Can trim to a single trunk when young or leave it to become a spreading, large multi-trunked shrub. Do not overwater or overfertilize once established. Too much water will create a weak plant.
Propagation: Seed germination codes E, H. Moderately easy from seed and difficult from cuttings.
Native Region: Only occurs in 5 counties – Lincoln, Franklin, Coffee, Marion, and Grundy
Designated a “Special Concern” species in Tennessee. Very attractive, small understory tree that is under-used. Leaves are a distinctive blue-green in spring and summer. Flowers are tiny and insignificant, although male flowers are showier than female flowers. Outstanding orange-red-purple fall color. Common name comes from the billowy hairs (attached to stalks of the spent flower clusters) that turn a purplish pink in summer. If you want smoke, plant 3 or 4 trees and hope for more females than males. It is a relative of the familiar European smoketree although the smoke effect created by the fuzzy, purple hairs is not as pronounced. High drought tolerance. Native to rocky, usually mountain soils of Tennessee.
Minimal wildlife appeal.