Photo of the Week: Grace Smokebush

Hello, from our friend the smokebush. Most of the fall color has passed, but the smokebush is still going strong. GIF by Steven Severinghaus

Autumn at the High Line wouldn't be complete without the fiery red foliage of Grace smokebush, Continus 'Grace.' It's a visitor – and staff – favorite this time of year. Its mammoth branches are especially captivating on windy days like today when they sway and wave with every hint of breeze.

Grace smokebush has two not-to-be-missed moments during the year: summer and fall. In the summer, bright burgundy foliage turns a greenish-red, and is followed by plumes of flowers with billowy hairs which turn a smoky pink. These hairs give the tree the appearance of being covered in puffs of smoke (hence the common name "smokebush"). In the fall, the red foliage deepens, and lingers a little bit longer than most of the autumn leaves that have already passed; the Grace smokebush is a beacon of fall as the landscape shifts into winter mode. Grace smokebush can be pruned hard in the spring to yield brighter foliage, or lightly to produce more summertime smoky flowers.

Fun fact: This large bush is part of the cashew family (Anacardiaceae); it's also closely related to mangoes, sumacs, and poison ivy.

The Grace smokebush in its native habitat, on the High Line at West 13th Street. Photo by Juan Valentin

Stop by in the coming days to see the smokebush in its prime near West 13th Street. Want to learn more about the plants to see during your next visit? Check out our gardens guide and bloom list.

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