PFAF Books ** Please visit the shop to view our books in paperback and digital formats. We have books on Forest/Woodland Gardening, Edible Plants, Edible Trees and a French translation of Edible Plants. All proceeds from the shop go towards the projects of the charity, Plants For A Future. more >>

Search Page Content
   Bookmark and Share
    By donating to PFAF, you can help support and expand our activities
    Plant Suppliers: Click here for a List

Cotinus coggygria - Scop.                
Common Name Smoke Tree, European smoketree, Venetian Sumac, Wig Tree, Smoke Tree
Family Anacardiaceae
Synonyms Rhus coggygria. R. cotinus.
Known Hazards Skin contact with this plant can cause dermatitis in sensitive people[200]. Though related to several poisonous species, this species is definitely not poisonous[65].
Habitats Dry hillsides, rocky places and open woods, usually on limestone, to 1300 metres[45, 50, 89].
Range S. Europe to W. Asia.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Bloom Color: Pink, White. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Early spring, Late summer, Late spring, Mid summer, Mid spring. Form: Rounded.

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of shrub
Cotinus coggygria is a deciduous Shrub growing to 5 m (16ft) by 5 m (16ft) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5. It is in flower from Jun to July, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required)The plant is not self-fertile.

USDA hardiness zone : 5-8

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

Cotinus coggygria Smoke Tree, European smoketree, Venetian Sumac, Wig Tree, Smoke Tree

Cotinus coggygria Smoke Tree, European smoketree, Venetian Sumac, Wig Tree, Smoke Tree
Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses:

Leaves[2, 179]. They are possibly edible[105, 177]. Some caution is advised. A volatile oil in the leaves contains pinene and camphene[179]. One report suggests that the essential oil contained in the flowers and leaves has a mango-like odour[158]. We have tried these leaves and really would not recommend them to anyone[K].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Cholagogue;  Febrifuge;  Ophthalmic.

The yellow wood is used as a cholagogue, febrifuge and for eye ailments[218].
Other Uses
Basketry;  Dye;  Essential;  Tannin;  Wood.

An essential oil is obtained from the leaves and flowers[105]. It has a mango-like smell[158]. Is it edible[K]? A yellow to orange dye is obtained from the root and stem[1, 4, 11, 14, 57]. It is somewhat fugitive though[4]. The leaves and bark are a good source of tannins[46, 61, 158]. Wood - ornamental. Used for cabinet making, picture frames[158]. The twigs are used in basketry[158].
Cultivation details                                         
Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Massing, Pollard, Screen, Standard, Specimen. Tolerates most soils[202]. Prefers a well-drained dry or moist soil in a sunny position[108, 200], doing better in a soil that is not very rich[11, 49]. Prefers a fertile but not over-rich soil[188]. Tolerates light shade[188]. Established plants are drought tolerant. Plants are hardy to about -20°c[184], though die-back often occurs at the tips of shoots during the winter[202]. Plants are slow to establish but are then quite fast growing when young though they slow down with age[202]. Hybridizes with C. obovatus[182]. A number of cultivars have been developed for their ornamental value[182, 200]. The purple-leafed cultivars are susceptible to mildew[202]. Plants flower on wood that is at least 3 years old[202]. Any pruning is best done in the spring[202]. Branches sometimes wilt, especially after hard pruning, and these should be removed[182]. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus[88, 200]. 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[78, 113, 200]. 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[113]. Warm stratify stored seed for 2 - 3 months at 15°c, then cold stratify for 2 - 3 months[164]. Germination can be very slow, often taking 12 months or more at 15°c[164]. 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[113]. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame[113]. Trench layering in spring[200].
Plant Suppliers: Click here for a List

      You can download this page as a PDF

Expert comment                                         
Botanical References                                         
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[11]Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
[14]Holtom. J. and Hylton. W. Complete Guide to Herbs.
A good herbal.
[45]Polunin. O. Flowers of Greece and the Balkans.
A good pocket flora, it also lists quite a few plant uses.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[49]Arnold-Forster. Shrubs for the Milder Counties.
Trees and shrubs that grow well in Cornwall and other mild areas of Britain. Fairly good, a standard reference book.
[50]? Flora Europaea
An immense work in 6 volumes (including the index). The standard reference flora for europe, it is very terse though and with very little extra information. Not for the casual reader.
[57]Schery. R. W. Plants for Man.
Fairly readable but not very comprehensive. Deals with plants from around the world.
[61]Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
[78]Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers.
A bit dated but a good book on propagation techniques with specific details for a wide range of plants.
[88]RHS. The Garden. Volume 112.
Snippets of information from the magazine of the RHS. In particular, there are articles on plants that are resistant to honey fungus, oriental vegetables, Cimicifuga spp, Passiflora species and Cucurbits.
[89]Polunin. O. and Huxley. A. Flowers of the Mediterranean.
A very readable pocket flora that is well illustrated. Gives some information on plant uses.
[105]Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World.
The most comprehensive guide to edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
[108]International Bee Research Association. Garden Plants Valuable to Bees.
The title says it all.
[113]Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation.
A very detailed book on propagating trees. Not for the casual reader.
[158]Gupta. B. L. Forest Flora of Chakrata, Dehra Dun and Saharanpur.
A good flora for the middle Himalayan forests, sparsly illustrated. Not really for the casual reader.
[164]Bird. R. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 4.
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation. A good article on Yuccas, one on Sagebrush (Artemesia spp) and another on Chaerophyllum bulbosum.
[177]Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption.
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
[179]Reid. B. E. Famine Foods of the Chiu-Huang Pen-ts'ao.
A translation of an ancient Chinese book on edible wild foods. Fascinating.
[182]Thomas. G. S. Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos.
Contains a wide range of plants with a brief description, mainly of their ornamental value but also usually of cultivation details and varieties.
[184]Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Shrubs.
Excellent photographs and a terse description of 1900 species and cultivars.
[188]Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers
Excellent range of photographs, some cultivation details but very little information on plant uses.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[202]Davis. B. Climbers and Wall Shrubs.
Contains information on 2,000 species and cultivars, giving details of cultivation requirements. The text is terse but informative.
[218]Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.

Readers comment                                         
QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.
2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.
3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the website on their phone.
Rate This Plant                                         
Please rate this plants for how successful you have found it to be. You will need to be logged in to do this. Our intention is not to create a list of 'popular' plants but rather to highlight plants that may be rare and unusual and that have been found to be useful by website users. This hopefully will encourage more people to use plants that they possibly would not have considered before.
Add a comment/link                                         

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

Subject : Cotinus coggygria  

Links To add a link to another website with useful info add the details here
Name of Site
URL of Site