One of our favorites! ‘Royal Purple’ is a compact, purple-leaved version of the European species. It is a deciduous, upright, loose-spreading, multi-stemmed shrub that typically matures over time to 10-15' tall. As is the case with all plants of this species, it gets its common name of smoketree (or smokebush) not from the tiny, insignificant, yellowish flowers which appear in branching, terminal panicles (6-8” long) in spring, but from the billowy hairs (attached to elongated stalks on the spent flower clusters) which turn a smoky pink to purplish pink in late spring, thus covering the plant with fluffy, hazy, smoke-like puffs throughout summer. But it is the foliage that particularly distinguishes 'Royal Purple'. Ovate to obovate leaves (to 3” long) emerge a rich maroon red in spring, and then gradually mature to dark purplish-red to purplish-black in summer. Foliage retains good color without much fading throughout the growing season.
One of the best new Barberries, this great variety stays compact and has excellent deep purple / burgundy foliage color. Bright yellow spring flowers and deep red fall color add to the ornamental attributes of this excellent contrast or accent plant. Extremely drought tolerant once established. A great new plant pick.