American Smoketree

All About the American Smoketree:

Scientific Nomenclature: Cotinus obovatus (previously known as: Cotinus americanus)

Common Names: American smoketree, American smokewood, chittamwood

Mature Height: 20–30 feet

Mature Spread: 20–30 feet

Growth Rate: Slow

Attracts Wildlife: Pollinators and birds

Messiness: Leaves drop in late autumn. In summer the tree will flower and the many tiny hairs during bloom give the tree a smoky appearance.

Shape: Oval/Round

Native to Kentucky: Yes

Preferred Soils: Prefers occasionally dry, well-drained, infertile loam soils. It tolerates a wide range of soils, including clays and shallow rocky soils whether acidic (<6.0pH), neutral (6.0–8.0pH) or alkaline (>8.0pH). In the wild you’ll often find it growing in limestone glades or on rocky limestone bluffs.

Screening: Not used as a screening or privacy tree.

Drought Tolerance: Is tolerant of drought, though it needs a fair amount of water to keep it healthy in drier conditions.

Coniferous or Deciduous: Deciduous

Pruning: Does not typically need pruning but can be cut to 6–8 inches above the ground in late winter to rejuvenate the plants shape. Be aware that doing so sacrifices any flowers that may bloom in the upcoming year. Deadwood can also be removed periodically to maintain the trees health.

Climate Quick Facts:

Following being planted as a sapling, over 20 years one American smoketree will:

  • Sequester ~807 pounds of CO2.
  • Reduce stormwater runoff by 299 gallons.