Smoke Bush or Smoke Tree is a genus of two species of flowing plants in the family Anacardiaceae. Smoke Tree is most widely known for its large billowing summer blooms that have a puffy cloud like appearance. It is native to the warm temperate northern hemisphere. The leaves are deciduous, alternate, simple, oval-shape and the flowers are clustered in a large open terminal panicles with a fluffy-greyish appearance resembling a cloud of smoke over the plant. It is widely used as a specimen tree with its attractive “smoke-like” appearance appearing in early to late summer. The tiny blooms slowly fade away in the late spring which is replaced by hairy-like filaments producing “smoky” billowing plume.
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The American Smoke Tree is native to southeastern United States from Tennessee south to Alabama and west to eastern Texas. It is a larger plant often becoming a small tree between 10 to 15 feet tall, the leaves are also larger, longer and has a brighter fall colour, usually brighter than its Eurasian species. Other selection of smoke tree include varieties with green or purple foliage changing shades of orange, red, or purple in autumn.
Growing smoke tree is quite easy and it is quite popular as a garden shrub. It prefers well drained or dry soil conditions and full sun. Cultivation is best in dry, infertile soils, which keeps the growth habit more compact and also improves the autumn colour; when planted in fertile soil, they become large, coarse and also tend to be short-lived, succumbing to verticillium wilt disease.
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In planting the smoke tree make sure to dig a hole that is at least twice as wide as the container size of the plant and mix in a shovelful of compost. Be sure that the top of the root ball is slightly higher than the grade surrounding the perimeter of the dug hole. Fill the remainder of the hole with well drained soil and water.
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