Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Flowering Smoke Tree Blossoms

Smoke tree, a tall shrub from Europe and Asia, is multi-stemmed and deciduous with an open, spreading form. The smooth, satiny leaves are nearly round and are blue-green in color in the species, purple in some varieties. The flowers are borne in large, long-lasting, fawn-colored, feathery inflorescence's, appearing in summer and lasting through fall. Purple-leaved forms have purple inflorescence's. It can grow 15 or more feet tall but is easily pruned to a smaller size.

The plant has broadly elliptic blunt to nearly rounded leaves with prominent lateral veins. Hey are borne alternately on long stems. The plant can be easily identified by its pale purple, branched, hairy flowering clusters at the end of branches. The flowering clusters have thin, hairy filaments which give a cloud-like appearance from a distance. The flowers themselves are inconspicuous little yellowish green blossoms that appear in early summer. The fruits are tiny kidney shaped brown berries.

Flowering Season: April to June.

Growing smoke tree: Full sun is best, especially for the purple-leaved varieties. The smoke tree tolerates just about any soil. Pruning this shrub is a compromise between two goals: obtaining dense foliage growth (with heavy annual pruning) or stimulating abundant flowering (since blooms only appear on wood three years old).

Uses for smoke tree: The smoke tree is good for shrub borders and mass plantings. The varieties with colorful foliage make nice accent plants.

Smoke tree related varieties: Many purple-leaved varieties exist. Royal Purple is a particularly choice specimen.