Cotinus obovatus

13 Nov

Cotinus obovatus (20/10/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Cotinus obovatus (20/10/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun to partial shade

Flowering period: Summer

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 10m

Eventual Spread: 10m

Hardiness: 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Family: Anacardiaceae

Cotinus obovatus is a large deciduous conical shrub, eventually becoming a small rounded tree. Its dark green leaves are obovate with entire margins, up to 15cm long and 8cm broad. Its leaves emerge pink/ purple in spring and turn purple/ brilliant red in autumn before they fall. On mature trees its bark is light grey and flakes off. Its pink/ grey dioecious flowers appear in plumes and are up to 30cm long, these are not self fertile. Its fruit is a small kidney shaped drupe.

Cotinus obovatus, commonly known as Chittamwood or American Smokewood, is native to south eastern USA. This shrub is rare in its native habitat. Cotinus obovatus is synonymous with Cotinus americanus.

Cotinus obovatus Autumn Leaf (20/10/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Cotinus obovatus Autumn Leaf (20/10/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

The etymological root of the binomial name Cotinus is derived from the ancient Greek  kotinus meaning ’Wild Olive’. Obovatus is derived from the Latin ovare ‘to lay eggs’, in reference to the shape of its leaves.

The landscape architect may find Cotinus obovatus useful as a large dramatic specimen shrub which provides interest in spring , summer and autumn.

Ecologically, Cotinus obovatus seeds are attractive to some birds.

Cotinus obovatus Bark (20/10/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Cotinus obovatus Bark (20/10/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

The Royal Horticultural Society has given Cotinus obovatus their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

Cotinus obovatus prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

Cotinus obovatus requires little maintenance. Pruning should be carried out during the winter months.

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