smokebush for bright colored fall trees and shrubs
Photo: John Glover/Alamy
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(Cotinus coggygria)

Also known as smoketree, this plant can be allowed to grow as a shrub or be pruned as a small tree. Small yellow flowers open in June. As they fade, long stalks with fuzzy pink hairs spring out, creating the impression that the plant is surrounded by purple to pinkish-tan smoke. These fade away by fall, when the leaves turn yellow or orange-red. 'Royal Purple' has purple foliage that turns scarlet red; 'Ancot' has lime-green leaves that go orange.

Full sun; moderate water; Zones 5-8
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