Cotinus coggygria
smoke tree

Anacardiaceae (cashew family)
Eurasia

Several striking smoke trees may be seen on Alvarado Row at 797 Esplanada Way, and there are small ones on the path alongside 936 Casanueva
Place. The one with purple leaves next to the speakers’ stand in White Plaza is ‘Royal Purple’. At flowering time the large, durable, fluffy volumes, composed of very long hairy pedicels, must be seen to be believed. At home in dry, hot desert and tolerant of subfreezing temperatures, smoke bush is uncommon here and unlikely to do well in gardens that are watered; still, it is often seen in England, so why not? The leaves in fall assume splendid variegated coloration that mixes fading green, brownish red, and ruby; what’s more, sprays of these fall leaves appreciate a vase.

Illustrations: shrubby habit | habit ‘Royal Purple’ | inflorescence.

Name derivation: Cotinus – From kotinos, Gk name for olive; coggygria – from kokkugia, the Gk name. John Rawlings added the Casanueva location.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005.