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Chinese tallow tree Triadica sebifera

Other Common Name(s):

Other plants called Chinese tallow tree:

Previously known as:

  • Sapium sebiferum
Phonetic Spelling
try-uh-DEE-kuh seb-EE-fer-uh
This plant has medium severity poison characteristics.
See below
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina
Description

Chinese tallow is a drought-tolerant shade tree in the Euphorbiaceae family.  Native to China and Japan, it was introduced in South Carolina in the 1700's.  It was first introduced as an ornamental tree as well as for making soap from the seed oils.  It wasn't until the early 1900's that its use as an ornamental tree spread.  It can be found from eastern North Carolina southward to Florida.  From Florida, it spread in a westerly direction, through Louisiana, Arkansas into Texas.  

It can reach heights and widths of 40 feet, with a 3-foot diameter, excellent for creating shade.  Its deep taproot allows the tree to hydrate in drought conditions.  It will reach taller heights when located in an area, such as a lawn, that received more moisture.  In dryer locations it tends to become more broad and does not grow to its potential height.

Its branches grow low to the ground.  They are long and appear in a drooping fashion.  Twigs are waxy and quite slender.  

This tree invades wet areas such as ditches and stream banks as well as some upland dry areas.  In undisturbed forests, it can prohibit native vegetation, and alter soil conditions due to the tannins (organic substance) in leaf litter.  The ability to grow in crowded locations, as well as any lighting conditions, allows the establishment of additional trees.  In Florida, it is present in over half of the counties, and has been placed on the State of Florida Noxious Weed List as well as on FLEPPC's (Florida's Exotic Pest Plant Council) List of Invasive species.  The seeds are spread by birds, only complicating the spread.  In order to eradicate this plant, total removal of the plant and seeds is required.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious pest issues. The leaves and fruit are toxic to humans and cattle.  This tree is invasive in North Carolina as well as other locations.  

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#shade tree#invasive#drought tolerant#salt tolerant#fall interest#fast growing#messy#aggressive#warm climates#long lifespan#deciduous tree#messy fruits#flood tolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#shade tree#invasive#drought tolerant#salt tolerant#fall interest#fast growing#messy#aggressive#warm climates#long lifespan#deciduous tree#messy fruits#flood tolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Triadica
    Species:
    sebifera
    Family:
    Euphorbiaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    China and Japan
    Distribution:
    AL, AR, CA, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TX
    Wildlife Value:
    Attracts bees and other insects as well as birds.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Shade
    Dimensions:
    Height: 30 ft. 0 in. - 40 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 30 ft. 0 in. - 40 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Pyramidal
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    8b, 8a, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Clusters of greenish three-lobed fruit turn black when ripe. The Capsule contains 3 white, wax-coated seeds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Spike
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The yellowish flowers have no petals and appear on 8 inch dangling spikes. This monoecious plant produces male flowers in clusters at the upper nodes of the inflorescence. Female flowers are solitary and form on short branches at the base of each spike.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Cordate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves have a long pointed tip. The upper leaf is medium to dark green, while the underside is a lighter green. Conspicuous yellow veins are visible on both the upper and underside of the leaves.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Fissured
    Bark Description:
    The trunk of this tree can be gnarled and fissured. The bark will thicken as the tree grows. It may peel off in vertical, narrow strips.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Flowering Tree
    Shade Tree
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Insect Pests
    Urban Conditions
    Problems:
    Invasive Species
    Messy
    Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Medium
    Poison Symptoms:
    Nausea and vomiting.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Unknown
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Fruits
    Leaves