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Botanical Name : Cotinus coggygria
Synonyms: Rhus cotinus, the European smoketree, Eurasian smoketree
Common Names: Smoke tree, Smoke bush, or Dyer’s sumach
Habitat : Cotinus coggygria is native to a large area from southern Europe, east across central Asia and the Himalaya to northern China. It grows on dry hillsides, rocky places and open woods, usually on limestone, to 1300 metres.
Cotinus coggygria is a multiple-branching shrub growing to 5-7 m tall with an open, spreading, irregular habit, only rarely forming a small tree. The leaves are 3-8 cm long rounded ovals, green with a waxy glaucous sheen. The autumn colour can be strikingly varied, from peach and yellow to scarlet. The flowers are numerous, produced in large inflorescences 15-30 cm long; each flower 5-10 mm diameter, with five pale yellow petals. Most of the flowers in each inflorescence abort, elongating into yellowish-pink to pinkish-purple feathery plumes (when viewed en masse these have a wispy ‘smoke-like’ appearance, hence the common name) which surround the small (2-3 mm) drupaceous fruit that do develop.
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Tolerates most soils.Prefers a well-drained dry or moist soil in a sunny position, doing better in a soil that is not very rich. Prefers a fertile but not over-rich soil. Tolerates light shade. Established plants are drought tolerant. Plants are hardy to about -20°c, though die-back often occurs at the tips of shoots during the winter. Plants are slow to establish but are then quite fast growing when young though they slow down with age. Hybridizes with C. obovatus. A number of cultivars have been developed for their ornamental value. The purple-leafed cultivars are susceptible to mildew. Plants flower on wood that is at least 3 years old. Any pruning is best done in the spring. Branches sometimes wilt, especially after hard pruning, and these should be removed. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Special Features: Not North American native, Attractive flowers or blooms.
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. It should germinate in the spring. Slightly immature or ‘green’ seed, harvested when it has fully developed but before it dries on the plant, gives the best results. Warm stratify stored seed for 2 – 3 months at 15°c, then cold stratify for 2 – 3 months. Germination can be very slow, often taking 12 months or more at 15°c. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. The seed has a long viability and should store for several years. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Trench layering in spring.
Leaves are possibly edible. Some caution is advised. A volatile oil in the leaves contains pinene and camphene. One report suggests that the essential oil contained in the flowers and leaves has a mango-like odour. We have tried these leaves and really would not recommend them to anyone.
The yellow wood of Cotinus coggygria is used as a cholagogue, febrifuge and for eye ailments. Recent research shows that the Cotinus coggygria syrup has the effect of protecting the liver from chemical damages, reducing tension of the choledochal sphincter, increasing the bile flow and raising the body immunity. The anti-hepatitis effect may be carried out through decreasing transaminase, normalizing functioning of the gallbladder, reducing icterus and enhancing the immunity of the body.
The wood was formerly used to make the yellow dye called young fustic. Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Massing, Pollard, Screen, Standard, Specimen. An essential oil is obtained from the leaves and flowers. It has a mango-like smell. Is it edible? A yellow to orange dye is obtained from the root and stem. It is somewhat fugitive though. The leaves and bark are a good source of tannins. Wood – ornamental. Used for cabinet making, picture frames. The twigs are used in basketry.
Known Hazards : Skin contact with this plant can cause dermatitis in sensitive people. Though related to several poisonous species, this species is definitely not poisonous.
Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider
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