Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - April 21, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Wilting American Smoke Tree in Texas
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I planted a young American smoke tree last fall (mid-November) and it put out a good show of tentative new leaves this spring. Then to keep the tree form I clipped some little shrubby start ups at the base, sealing them with Spectracide pruning seal, and we got a hard frost that night. The next morning all the leaves were wilted. I've given it two weeks and it has not recovered. It still has juice in the veins but is not as green as I expected. Did I kill my tree?

ANSWER:

Cotinus obovatus (American smoke tree) are interesting shrubs (or trees if trained this way). The leaves are attractive, but it is the flowers and fruit clusters that look like masses of smoke that really attract attention. I don’t think the pruning and subsequent use of pruning sealant has affected your plant. More likely it wilted because of the freezing temperature that happened the night afterward. Since it is not dropping its leaves, the stems and buds are still fine. The leaves just took a cold temperature hit and perhaps froze on the edges but it doesn't sound like they froze through the entire leaf. Also as a young and relatively newly transplanted tree it will be more susceptible to cold damage than an established tree. Remember that this is a tough plant that thrives on neglect and should not be over-watered or over-fertilized. Patience is the key right now. As long as some portions of the leaves are green and normal looking the tree will continue photosynthesizing and will be producing its own food. If not then the tree may drop its leaves and send out a new set.

Here’s a Mr. Smarty Plants question and answer about cold damage to an olive tree (the principles are the same for your smoke tree).

 

From the Image Gallery


American smoke tree
Cotinus obovatus

American smoke tree
Cotinus obovatus

American smoke tree
Cotinus obovatus

American smoke tree
Cotinus obovatus

More Trees Questions

Small trees for Alberta
March 17, 2011 - I would like to know if there is a short, 15 feet and under, deciduous tree that can be grown outside in Calgary, AB
view the full question and answer

Will Texas Mountain Laurel roots damage pipes in Tucson AZ?
May 20, 2010 - We have a Texas Laurel tree in our back yard,and it is doing fine, and we are are planning to put another one in the front yard close to the house will the root system attack our pipes ? no septic sys...
view the full question and answer

Replacement for running bamboo in California
May 20, 2013 - We currently have running bamboo planted next to the side our house facing West, which has provided wonderful shade in front of two large windows. However, because it is running bamboo we are afraid i...
view the full question and answer

Small to medium drought-tolerant trees for Southern California
June 01, 2012 - I am looking for drought tolerant trees to line one side of our 70 foot driveway. We live in Southern California. Currently, we have queen palms, but I would like something more native or drought to...
view the full question and answer

Can a bur oak fit in a small space in Austin?
April 11, 2011 - We recently got a one-gallon pot of Bur Oak. The area around our house has two old live oaks on the NW corner and another large live oak on the SE. There isn't much room on the SW corner for the oak ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.