The Teddington Gardener

Autumn blaze – Cotinus obovatus

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Cotinus obovatus, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, richly decked in Autumn colours

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A spectacular rare shrub or very small tree native to North America with great autumn colour, Cotinus obovatus has outstanding foliage, with very large (up to 10 cm), oval leaves.

In the autumn these leaves turn stunning shades of red, orange and purple and the bright colours can last for several weeks in good weather. In late spring, once established, fuzzy panicles of flowers appear, giving this plant an attractive, somewhat smoky appearance.


  • Position: Full sun or partial shade.
  • Soil: Fertile, well drained soil.
  • Hardiness: Hardy.
  • Flowering Period: April – May.
  • Flower Colour: Pale pink
  • Rate of Growth: Slow to moderate.
  • Habit: Cotinus obovatus grows to be a a large shrub or eventually a small branching tree with a rounded crown if left unpruned.
    • Height: up to 6 m (20 ft).
    • Spread: 4 m (13 ft).
  • Notes: In smaller gardens, Cotinus obovatus can be pruned back hard on a yearly basis to encourage branching and prevent it getting to large. This plant is also known as Cotinus americanus.

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