Common smoke tree

Common smoke tree

Common smoke tree

Specification & Spread

Common smoke tree leaves — folia cotini coggygriae
Common smoke tree — cotinus coggygria scop.
Sumach family — anacardiaceae
Other names: southern sumach, Zante-wood, smoke-tree.

It is a large deciduous shrub (sometimes has the form of a small tree) 2-5 m tall, with a thick spherical or umbrella-shaped head.
There are branched stocks, with greyish-brown bark and yellow wood; the stem shoots of the current year are green or reddish, with a laticifer.
The leaves are alternate, petiolate, elliptical, obovate or nearly rounded, up to 8 cm long and up to 4 cm wide, entire, with sharply protruding veins, dark green above, greyish green below, yellowing first in autumn, then intensely reddening and turning purple sometimes with a purple tinge.

The flowers are small, inconspicuous, gathered in a multi-flowered spreading paniculate inflorescences. The flowers are bisexual and staminate. Most of the staminate flowers in the inflorescence are underdeveloped, its pedicels, pubescent with long, bulged hairs. After flowering, it becomes very long, resulting in panicles becoming very large (up to 30 cm long) and fluffy, which gives the shrub an elegant appearance (hairs on the stem have different individuals colours: white, reddish, greenish, which further enhances the decorativeness of common smoke tree). Normally the developed bisexual pentamerous flowers, with a five-leaf green calyx, remaining with fruits, a pentapetalous greenish-white corolla about 3 mm in diameter, 5 short stamens and a pestle with an upper ovary and three pillars. Its peduncles after flowering are also greatly elongated, but almost completely devoid of pubescence. In addition to inflorescences with bisexual flowers, the panicles develop with male flowers and separately with female ones.
The fruits are small ovoid or reniform stonedews up to 5 mm long, with drying pulp, blackening when ripe, located on long fruit stems.

It blooms in June – July, the fruits ripen in August – September.

Spreading. Common smoke tree – Mediterranean-Persian species. It grows in the south of Ukraine, in the Crimea, in the Caucasus and Transcaucasia. Along with it, in Ukraine, in the Crimea, in the Caucasus and in the south of the European part of Russia, there are cultural plantings of common smoke tree in the field shelterbelts.

Habitat. The large thickets of common smoke tree are located on treeless slopes from the foothills to a height of about 1000 m above sea level. As a rule, such thickets occupy habitats that are inconvenient for agriculture: stony and gravelly, often quite steep slopes, limestone outcrops.


The chemical composition of common smoke tree

Contained in the leaves:

  • tannins (20-40%), in which the content of gallotannin ranges from 20 to 25%;
  • free gallic acid;
  • flavonoids quercetin, myricetin and others;
  • essential oil (up to 0.2%) containing myrcene, linalool, terpineol, camphor.

Harvesting and storage of raw materials

Harvesting. It is produced in the period of the highest content of tannins in the plant – the leaves are harvested from the beginning of flowering until the fruits are fully ripe. Cut off the whole, not damaged by insects leaves.

Security measures. The raw materials can be harvested every year on the same thickets. In order to preserve the thickets can not break off the branches.

Drying. It is dried in well-ventilated areas (in attics, under sheds). The weather permitting can be dried outdoors. In case of artificial drying, the temperature should not exceed 60 ºС.

Storage. It is stored in a dry and dark place. It is packed in bags.

The leaves are simple, elliptical or obovate, on long petioles. It is dark green above and bare. It is glaucous, pubescent, entire, fragile, whole or broken into pieces, with cross-streaked veining below. On the underside of the leaf the veins are strongly prominent. The length of the plates of the whole leaves is from 3 to 12 cm, the width is from 3 to 8 cm; the petiole length is 1-6 cm.
The petioles and main veins are light green or more often with a brownish-purple hue.

The smell when it is rubbed is specific, aromatic. The tsate is astringent.

Properties and application

Tannin has:

  • astringent
  • anti-inflammatory and
  • antiseptic properties.

Flavonoids have:

  • choleretic action.

Application of common smoke tree 

The leaves of common smoke tree serve as domestic raw materials for obtaining medical and technical tannin.
Common smoke tree tannin  in its structure is close to the Chinese tannin and is octa- or nonagagloylglucose.
Tannin is a light yellow or brownish yellow amorphous powder with a weak peculiar smell and astringent taste. It is easily soluble in water and alcohol. Aqueous solutions form precipitates with alkaloids, solutions of protein and gelatin, salts of heavy metals.

It is applied as:

  • astringent and
  • local anti-inflammatory agent in inflammatory processes in the oral cavity, nose, throat, larynx in the form of rinsing and lubrication for burns, ulcers, cracks, bedsores.

Inside tannin (as an antithetical agent) is not taken, as it primarily interacts with the proteins of the gastric mucosa; ingestion in large doses causes loss of appetite and indigestion. Due to the fact that with salts of alkaloids and heavy metals tannin forms insoluble compounds, it is often used in oral poisoning with these substances; the stomach is recommended to wash with 0.5% aqueous solution of tannin.

Do not use tinctures and decoctions with common smoke tree for liver diseases, pregnant and lactating women, if there are cracks in the rectum.