Taxonomic name: Cotinus coggygria Scop.
Synonyms: Rhus cotinus
Common names: European smoketree, festete (Spanish), fustet, Hungarian fustic, smoke bush, smoke tree, Venetian-sumac, wig tree, young fustic
Organism type: tree, shrub
Native to Asia and southeastern Europe, Cotinus coggygria is a shrub that occurs naturally in areas with rocky soil and poor soils.
Cotinus coggygria is a deciduous shrub with a rounded or irregular shape. It generally grows to 3.6-4.6 metres tall and 2.4-4.3 metres wide. In the summer,C. coggygria exhibits simple, alternate, bluish-green leaves of oval or obvate shape, ranging in size from 3.8cm-8.9cm. In the fall, C. coggygria foilage changes to an attractive mix of yellow, orange, and red. C. coggygria begins to flower in June, exhibiting small yellow-green flowers with panicles ranging from 15.2cm-20.3cm (UConn, undated). UConn (undated) notes that the trees' characteristic look is derived "from plumy hairs on the sterile flowers." C. coggygria stems are smooth and purple or brown in colour. The older bark is light grey (UConn, undated).
natural forests, ruderal/disturbed, urban areas
Cotinus coggygria tolerates a broad range of soil types, from light sandy soils to heavy clays. (Floridata, 2007). C. coggygria also tolerates a wide range of soil ph, from 3.7-6.3. C. coggygria can grow in partial shade to full sun, and it tolerates wet, moist or dry soils. (VCE,1989). When occuring naturally, C. coggygria frequently grows on gravely, dry soils, particularly on south-facing limestone slopes (Illyes, undated).
In oak forests of Slovenia where it has been introduced Cotinus coggygria frequently acts as a substrate species for the insect Nueroptera (Devetak,2002).
Cotinus coggygria is valuable to humans in a variety of ways. An orange dye can be rendered from the roots and stems of C. coggygria, and its leaves and bark are a good source of tannins. As a medicinal plant, the yellow wood of C. coggygria can be steeped and used as a coagulant, fever reducer, or as a treatment for eye ailments (PFAF, 2004). Ivanova (2004) investigated medicinal uses of Bulgarian plants and found C. coggygria to have antioxidant capabilities greater than those of black, green, and rooibos teas. Famine Foods (1998) notes that in times of distress,the shoots and ripe fruits of C. coggygria is used as an emergency food source in China and the Garwhal Himalyas of India, respectively. As a landscaping plant, C. coggygria is touted for its abiltiy to thrive in dry, difficult conditions, as well as its attractive, late summer flowering (UConn, undated). Becuase it has little need for pruning or maintainence, it is recomended extensively for urban uses such as parking lot island and median strips (Gilman and Watson, 1993). C. coggygria also tranplants well, due to its fibrous root system (PFAF, 2004).
Native range: Europe: (ex-)Yugoslavia, Austria, Greece, Italy, Romania, Switzerland, Ukraine, Albania; Asia: China, Iran, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russian Federation, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Hungary, France, Germany, Bulgaria (GRIN, 2007; UConn, udated; Pysek, et all, 2002)
Known introduced range: North America: United States (GRIN, 2007; USDA, NRCS. 2007)
Introduction pathways to new locations
Acclimatisation societies: Likely introduced to US as result of 19th century trade with China.
Biological: Although specific research related to control of C. coggygria has not been carried out, the plant may be affected by rusts, leafspot, verticillium wilt, or San Jose scale (Floridata, 2007) These agents could be employed as a biological control mechanism. Floridata (2007) notes that C. coggygria is largely resistant to honeydew fungus.
For Cotinus coggygria to produce seeds, sexual reproduction is necessary. C. coggygria can also be propagated from cuttings, although some cultivars are difficult to root (Floridata, 2007). Floridata (2007) recomends taking heel or nodal cuttings in late summer and treating them with rooting powder.
The panicles of Cotinus coggygria change colour as they age between June and September. At their peak, the panicles cover the plant in a smokey pink plume, an aesthetically pleasing arrangement from which C. coggygria derives its common name of 'smoketree' (UConn, undated).
Compiled by: National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) & IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
Last Modified: Friday, 3 August 2007