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Plant Profile: Smokebush ‘Flame’ (Cotinus) ‘Flame’

cotinus coryggria FlameSmokebush ‘Flame’ is hybrid resulting from a cross between Cotinus coggygria, a native to Asia,  and C. obovatus, native to southern US.  It is a membe of the cashew family, Anacardiaceae, that also includes sumac, poison ivy, and mango.  Growing 10-15′ tall, this vigorous, bushy, deciduous shrub has simple, blue gray foliage that is attractive all summer but presents an outstanding autumn display of bright orange-red foliage. Panicles of small  purplish pink flowers appear after the flowers of most spring blooming trees and shrubs and before the summer blooming ones.   Smokebush ‘Flame’ is tough and can be grown in parking lots as well as garden beds and containers. Once established it is drought tolerant and can be used in dry rocky soils without irrigation.  The genus name, Continus, is the Greek word kotinus  wild-olive, and is of uncertain significance here.

Type: Deciduous  flowering shrub

Outstanding Feature: Orange-red autumn foliage.

Form: Round, symmetrical.

Growth Rate: Slow.

Bloom: Large panicles of small flowers in spring and early summer produce of cloud of purplish pink.

Size: 10-15′ h x 10-12′ W.

Light: Full sun.

Soil: Prefers well drained loam but tolerates clay, sand, acid and alkaline soils.

Hardiness: Zones 5b-8.

Pests and Diseases: Susceptible to Verticillium wilt ; no pests of important.

Propagation: Softwood cuttings in spring; layering.

Comments: Life span is about 20 years.

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