The smokebushes bring valuable late summer interest to the garden, including this one which lights up the Autumn Garden.
There are only two species of Cotinus, the first being the American Cotinus obovatus, and the second being C. coggygria, which occurs in Europe and Asia, and ‘Flame’ is a selection of the latter. In summer it produces airy, plume-like fruiting panicles, which age to a muted smoky grey and give the effect of clouds of smoke, giving rise to the common names of smoke bush or burning bush. These feathery panicles contrast with the purple colouring of the summer leaves, which take on orange and red hues in autumn. This vigorous shrub can take on the proportions and habit of a small tree to 6m in height. The genus Cotinus belongs to the family Anacardiaceae, which comprises trees, shrubs and herbs from tropical, sub-tropical and Mediterranean zones. Members of this family generally produce a resin, and some are edible, such as pistachio and mango, while the wood of Cotinus produces a yellow dye.