American Smoketree

Cotinus obovatus

Other common name(s):

Texas Smoke Tree, Wild Smoke Tree, Smoke Tree, Smokebush, Chittamwood


Anacardiaceae (Sumac Family)

Plant Ecoregion Distribution Map

Edwards Plateau
Balcones Canyonlands

Plant Characteristics

Growth Form






Leaf Retention




Habitat and Care Requirements

Soil Type(s)

Sand, Loam, Clay, Rocky, Limestone, Well Drained

Light Requirement

Sun, Part Shade

Water Requirement


Native Habitat


Bloom and Attraction

Bloom Color

Pink, Yellow, Purple

Bloom Season


Seasonal Interest

Berry, Fall Color, Forage

Wildlife Benefit

Browsers, Birds


This is an excellent small, ornamental tree that thrives in tough conditions and neglect and makes an excellent small yard tree. Rich soil and too much water may create a weak plant. It is drought tolerant, but needs supplemental water to get established. It likes rocky north- or east-facing slopes or on the protected side of Ashe Junipers. In Texas, found in the Balcones Canyonlands region of the Edwards Plateau. Propagation: Root cuttings, Seeds, Semi-hardwood cuttings, Softwood cuttings.


Blooms April-May. Smoketree gets its common name from the billowy hairs attached to elongated stalks on the spent flower clusters. These hairs turn a smoky-pink to purplish-pink in summer, covering the tree with fluffy, hazy, smoke-like puffs. Berries occur on pinkish stems and then dry to small dark seeds. Spring leaves are silky pink, turning bluish-to-dark green. Fall leaves turn vibrant shades of red, orange, yellow and purple.  Browsed by wildlife and provides nest materials.
Previous Scientific Name(s): Synonym/s: Cotinus americanus


1) Griffith, Bryce, Omernick & Rodgers (2007). Ecoregions of Texas. 2) Wasowski and Wasowski, Native Texas Plants Landscaping Region by Region, 1991, pg. 286, 287. 3) 4) 5), 6), 7)
Receive the latest native plant news

Subscribe To Our News

Subscribe to emails from the Native Plant Society of Texas.

Receive emails when new posts are added 4-6 times per month, or receive an email once a month.

Or join us on social media

About the Region

New Braunfels, the location of our Fall 2024 Symposium, straddles both the Edwards Plateau Ecoregion and the Blackland Prairie ecoregion. Interstate 35 divides the city of New Braunfels; its path through the city closely parallels the boundary of these two ecoregions, with the Edwards Plateau on the west side and the Blackland Prairies region to the east. The Edwards Plateau area is also called the Hill Country; however, this general term covers a much larger area extending farther north. Spring-fed creeks are found throughout the region; deep limestone canyons, rivers, and lakes (reservoirs) are common. Ashe juniper is perhaps the most common woody species found throughout the region. Additional woody species include various species of oak, with live oak (Quercus fusiformis) being the most common. Sycamores (Platanus occidentalis) and bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) border waterways. This area is well known for its spring wildflower displays, though they may be viewed in spring, late summer, and fall, as well. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, average annual rainfall in the Edwards Plateau ranges from 15 to 34 inches.

The Blackland Prairie extends from the Red River south to San Antonio, bordered on the west by the Edwards Plateau and the Cross Timbers, and on the east by the Post Oak Savannah. Annual rainfall averages 30 to 40 inches, with higher averages to the east. This region is dominated by prairie species. The most common grass species include little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) in the uplands and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) in the riparian areas and drainages. Common herbaceous flowering plants include salvias, penstemons, and silphiums. This area has suffered greatly from overgrazing and agricultural use. Few intact areas remain, though many of the plants can be found along county roadsides throughout the region.

Our four host chapters (New Braunfels, Lindheimer, Guadalupe, and the Hill Country chapters) are located in one or both of the ecoregions above. However, the eastern portion of Guadalupe County also falls within the Post Oak Savanna ecoregion. Annual rainfall averages 35 to 45 inches, with higher averages to the east. A wide variety of hardwood trees are found, including several species of oaks, elms, and in the Bastrop area, loblolly pine (Pinus taeda). Grasses and forbs dominate in the open savannas, with most common grass being little bluestem. Ranching, agriculture, and fire suppression have allowed woody species to encroach on the once-open savannas.

Source: Wildflowers of Texas by Michael Eason