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Cotinus 'Grace'

Cotinus 'Grace'
Translucent in the early-morning May sun
The 'smoke'

Common name smoketree
Family anacardiaceae
Life cycle shrub/tree (Z4-8)
Flowers pink-purple (summer)
Size 10-20'
Light sun-part shade
Cultural notes drought-tolerant

Hybrid between C. coggyria and C. obovatus, grown primarily for its smoky sprays of pinkish-purple flowers. Rose-tinted leaves, especially in spring and autumn. We hope this one will be more of an asset than a plain-jane C. coggyria we grew for a while - that one never bloomed, and developed a scraggly habit. It went to compost. So far, 'Grace' has provided more bang for the buck, even though it completely died back to the ground a couple of winters.

Cotinus 'Grace'
A rather different look in bright mid-day sun
In spring 2011, it looked like 'Grace' was not going to return – and when it did with a few low branches, they had to emerge through a thicket of Digitalis lutea. Which made for quite a cool effect.
Cotinus 'Grace'
Hidden among the "smoke" are some shiny tan seeds
Silly thing. Emerging from nothing in spring, one single shoot looks like an awkward teenager, reaching a height of about 10 feet, while the rest of its branches go no higher than 5 feet or so.
Cotinus 'Grace'
Most years, I cut it back hard, to about a foot from the ground, and wait to see which stems will decide to come back alive (some invariably are lifeless). Sometime in early spring, the dark purple buds start emerging on the ones that want to give it another go – and it won't be long before the whole thing regains its mass of leaves.

We left this plant behind in our Pennsylvania garden (and wish it well); we don't grow it in Houston.

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