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Vernicia fordii is often confused with:
Hibiscus syriacus Hibiscus syriacus
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Chilopsis linearis Chilopsis linearis
Ulmus rubra Tree form (Guilford County, NC)-Mid Summer
Valeriana rubra Valeriana rubra

Vernicia fordii

Previously known as:

  • Aleurites fordii
Phonetic Spelling
al-eh-yoo-REE-teez FOR-dee-eye
This plant has high severity poison characteristics.
See below
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina
Description

The seeds of Vernicia fordii are rich in unsaturated oils and are harvested to be used in the production of lacquers, varnishes, linoleum, oilcloth, resins, paints, greases, brake-linings, polishing compounds, and artificial leather.  Early in the 1900's, the importation of these oils reached millions of gallons per year.  Due to high demand for the oils, this tree was brought to the US by Gulf Coast farmers in search of cash crop. 

By the 1920's, there were over 10,000 acres of tungoil trees being grown along the Gulf Coast in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.  The 1940's come along, synthetic resins begin to become an alternative.  Production declined and it was no longer viable as a income producing crop.  The trees remained, and were able to establish themselves in disturbed habitats.  Its suckering habit has allowed it to flourish and spread.  In some locations it is considered an invasive and noxious weed.  

Controlling its growth and spread has proven to be a challenge. Since they can reproduce through suckers, removal of a tree must be complete.  After felling the tree, the remaining stump should be chemically treated immediately after the cutting is done.  

In its natural habitat, it can be found growing along right of ways, forest edges and in urban green spaces. 

(Flowers resemble Hibiscus syriacus).

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Susceptible to dieback and canker.  

All parts of this tree are poisonous, consumption can cause death.  Its leaves can cause a rash similar to poison ivy.  

Spreading by suckers, it can become invasive.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#showy flowers#deciduous#small tree#invasive#poisonous#drought tolerant#white flowers#pink flowers#flowering tree#messy#evergreen tree#deciduous tree#dendrology#messy fruits#dry soils tolerant#tropical tree
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#showy flowers#deciduous#small tree#invasive#poisonous#drought tolerant#white flowers#pink flowers#flowering tree#messy#evergreen tree#deciduous tree#dendrology#messy fruits#dry soils tolerant#tropical tree
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Vernicia fordii
    Species:
    fordii
    Family:
    Euphorbiaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    China and Vietnam
    Distribution:
    AL, CA, FL, GA, LA, MS, PR, TX
    Wildlife Value:
    Attractive to bees, who pollinate the flowers.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Screening
    Shade
    Dimensions:
    Height: 15 ft. 0 in. - 25 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 10 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Poisonous
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    8b, 8a, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    3" fruits are large, globular, and contain 3-7 seeds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Petals:
    7 - 20 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Flowers are pale pink to white, with red veins. They have 5-7 petals in large clusters and bloom before the leaves emerge.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Cordate
    Ovate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The 3-lobed, light green leaves are alternate, simple, long-stalked, and heart-shaped. They range from 6" to 10" long. The petioles are long with a red gland at the base of each leaf.
  • Bark:
    Bark Description:
    The bark is smooth, thin and exudes a milky white sap when cut.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Slope/Bank
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Flowering Tree
    Shade Tree
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Poor Soil
    Problems:
    Contact Dermatitis
    Invasive Species
    Poisonous to Humans
    Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    High
    Poison Symptoms:
    HIGHLY TOXIC, MAY BE FATAL IF EATEN! Poison part: All parts, but mainly the seeds Poisonous if ingested. Symptoms may include severe stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, slowed breathing, and poor reflexes; may be fatal.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Glycoside and phytotoxin
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    Yes
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Flowers
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Roots
    Seeds
    Stems