Saturday, June 23, 2012

Smoketree - Cotinus coggygria

Smoketree - Cotinus coggygria
This tree was here on the property when we first moved here in 1997.  It was easily 20 feet tall when in the winter of 2008-2009, it came down in an ice storm.  The 8 inch trunk was split, requiring chainsaw clean up efforts, and an assumption on my part that we had lost the tree.  In the spring and summer of 2009, it sent out dozens of shoots, but no blooms.  I asked for advice about whether or not it was salvagable, and the consensus was basically, no - the tree was just gasping, and long term survival would be iffy at best.

Then in March, 2010, I attended Jane Krumpe's pruning class, and Jane suggested picking one or two of the shoots as new leaders, pruning the rest to the ground, and see what happens.

Smoketree - Cotinus coggygria
Here's the result, two years later.  Not sure about long term, but it's blooming again, showing off those wonderful, wispy blooms that give it its common name. 
Smoketree - Cotinus coggygria

Some information from Connecticut University:
  • actual flowers are small and yellow-green
  • flowering occurs in June
  • the flowers are held in 6" to 8" long and wide panicles
  • the showiness of the bloom results from plumy hairs on the sterile flowers
  • the panicles change colors as they age during the months of June, July, August and September
  • at their peak, the panicles are a "smokey" pink and can cover a plant 
Smoketree is native to areas in Southern Europe to central China, and has wood that is distinctively yellow, although it is too small to have any value as lumber.

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