Chinese Pistache Facts: Tips On Growing A Chinese Pistache Tree


If you are looking for a tree suitable for a xeriscape landscape, one with ornamental attributes which also fulfills a valuable niche for wildlife, look no further than the Chinese pistache tree. If this piques your interest, read on for additional Chinese pistache facts and care of Chinese pistache.

Chinese Pistache Facts

The Chinese pistache tree is, as mentioned, a notable ornamental tree, especially during the fall season when the normally dark green foliage changes to a dramatic profusion of orange and red leaves. An excellent shade tree with a broad canopy, Chinese pistache will attain heights of between 30-60 feet (9-18 m.). A deciduous tree, the one foot (30 cm.) long pinnate leaves consist of between 10-16 leaflets. These leaves are mildly aromatic when bruised.

Pistacia chinensis, as the name suggests, is related to the pistachio; however, it does not produce nuts. Instead, if a male Chinese pistache tree is present, the female trees bloom in April with inconspicuous green blossoms that develop into clumps of brilliant red berries in the fall, changing to a blue-purple hue in the winter.

While the berries are inedible for human consumption, the birds go nuts for them. Keep in mind that the bright colored berries will drop and may stain or create a slippery walkway. If this is a concern, consider planting P. chinensis ‘Keith Davey,’ a fruitless male clone.

Native to China, Taiwan and the Philippines, Chinese pistache grows at a moderate pace (13-24 inches (33-61 cm.) per year) and is relatively long lived. It is also tolerant of many soil types as well as being drought tolerant with roots that grow deep into the soil. The bark of growing Chinese pistache is grayish-brown and, if peeled from the tree, reveals a shocking salmon pink interior.

So what are some landscape uses for Chinese pistache trees?

Chinese Pistache Uses

Chinese pistache is not a fussy tree. It can be grown in USDA zones 6-9 in a variety of soils as long as the soil is well draining. It is a sturdy tree with deep roots that make it an ideal specimen for near patios and sidewalks. It is heat and drought tolerant and winter hardy to 20 degrees F. (-6 C.) as well as relatively pest and fire resistant.

Use Chinese pistache anywhere you would like to add a shade addition to the landscape with the bonus of an opulent fall appearance. This member of the Anacardiaceae family also makes a lovely container specimen for the patio or garden.

Care of Chinese Pistache

The Chinese pistache is a sun lover and should be situated in an area of at least 6 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight per day. As mentioned, Chinese pistache isn’t picky about the soil it’s grown in as long as it drains well. Choose a site of not only plenty of sun, but with fertile soil deep enough to accommodate the long taproots and at least 15 feet (4.5 m.) away from nearby structures to account for their growing canopies.

Dig a hole as deep as and 3-5 times as wide as the root ball of the tree. Center the tree in the hole, spreading the roots out evenly. Refill the hole; don’t amend it, as it is not necessary. Tamp the dirt down lightly around the base of the tree to remove any air pockets. Water the tree in well and spread a 2- to 3-inch (5-7.5 cm.) layer of mulch around the base, away from the trunk to discourage fungal disease, rodents and insects.

Although Chinese pistache trees are fairly disease and pest resistant, they are susceptible to verticillium wilt. Avoid planting them in any area that has had previous contamination.

Once the tree has been planted, continue to water twice a week for the next month while the tree acclimates. Thereafter, check the soil once a week and water only when the top one inch is dry.

Feed trees under 5 years old in the spring and fall with a nitrogen based fertilizer. Use one that is supplemented with superphosphate only if they are growing less than 2-3 feet per year to give them a boost.

Young Chinese pistache should be pruned in January or February to facilitate their signature umbrella shape. When trees are six feet (1.5+ m.) tall, prune the tops of the trees. As branches emerge, choose one as the trunk, another as a branch and prune out the remainder. When the tree has grown another three feet, prune them to 2 feet (61 cm.) above the previous cut to encourage branching. Repeat this process until the trees are symmetrical with an open canopy.

Keep leaf debris and fallen berries raked up from around the trees to prevent unwanted seedlings.


Chinese Pistache Uses - Care Of Chinese Pistache Trees In The Landscape - garden

What is the perfect tree for the home landscape? Most people want an attractive, low maintenance tree that grows fast, is pest and disease free, conserves water, and lives a long time. I’m sorry to say that no such tree exists. The problem: most fast growing trees are shorter-lived, use lots of water, and, if they survive, quickly outgrow the space available in the average residential landscape. Given this complex balancing act, the Chinese pistache (Pistacia chinensis) meets most of the above listed criteria and is an excellent tree for our area.

The Chinese pistache is a medium to large deciduous hardwood tree that will fit into larger home landscapes. The leaves are compound pinnate (a long leaf stem with 11 to 17 leaflets) and alternately arranged. It has impressive fall color (scarlet, crimson, orange, sometimes yellow), even in milder climates. The tree’s canopy can reach 40-50 feet in height and 30 feet in width at maturity. It is virtually insect- and disease-free (although it is susceptible to Texas root rot).

The Chinese pistache is dioecious: plants are either males producing pollen (with little or no allergenic qualities) or female producing attractive (but inedible) berries that attract birds. Once established, it is very drought, wind, and heat tolerant. The Chinese pistache is a close relative of the pistachio nut tree (Pistacia vera), but is much hardier. The wood is very hard and rot resistant.

Young Chinese pistache trees should be planted in spring or fall. They must have full sun and do best in well-drained soil. However, they tolerate a wide range of soils, some alkalinity, and can live a very long time (several centuries). If there is a down side to the Chinese pistache, it’s that young trees appear spindly and awkward. Trees planted from five and fifteen gallon containers will probably need staking and grow slowly for the first three to five years after planting. Some structural pruning may also be necessary in the early years to develop an even canopy and proper branch spacing. Once they are established, they can grow two to three feet per year.

All trees should be planted in a hole three to five times the width and only as deep as the root ball. Spring or fall planting is recommended. No amendments should be incorporated into the soil. The soil surface should be mulched to a depth of two to three inches and mulch should not touch the trunk. The soil should be allowed to dry on the surface between irrigations and never be soggy. Waterlogged soils are not suitable for Chinese pistache trees.

As mentioned earlier, staking will probably be necessary on a newly planted Chinese pistache tree. The most common staking method uses two wooden stakes drive into the ground on opposite sides of the tree. Tie the tree to the stakes with soft tree ties (or panty hose). If using wire to tie the tree to the stakes, use soft rubber garden hose to protect the tree from damage from the wire. Allow the tree to have some movement as this will allow the trunk to become stronger. For more information on planting and staking, get the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension publication Planting Guidelines: Container Trees and Shrubs (available on-line at: ag.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/az1022.pdf).

If you would like to see mature Chinese pistache trees, go to Cordes Junction and look around the freeway interchange where I-17 and Highway 69 intersect. There are a few Chinese pistache trees planted here along the road (I know it’s not the most convenient location). I hope that more people decide to plant these near-perfect landscape trees. The Chinese pistache is definitely an excellent choice for our area.


Chinese Pistache Uses - Care Of Chinese Pistache Trees In The Landscape - garden

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Chinese Pistache

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Chinese Pistache

Classification

Common name: Chinese Pistache (1)

Scientific name: Pistacia chinensis (1)

Family: Anacardiaceae, a group of flowering plants commonly referred to as the cashew family. (1)

Identification

Habit: The Chinese Pistache has a moderate growth rate of about 13-24 inches per year and its branches form a vase-shape as they emerge from the trunk. (1,4) Although it can reach heights over 60 feet, the Chinese Pistache typically grows to be 25-35 feet tall with a spread of 25-35 feet. At maturity, the Chinese Pistache has a large, symmetrical canopy (Figure 1) that is ideal for creating shade over pathways, parking lots, and a variety of other settings in arid and semiarid areas. (1)

Figure 1: Illustration of the symmetric canopy of the Chinese Pistache at maturity. Image source: Gilman, E.F. Watson, D.G. Pistacia chinensis Chinese Pistache. US Forest Service, Department of Agriculture. Fact Sheet ST-482, October 1994.

Young Chinese Pistache trees are often asymmetric and require early structural pruning to achieve the desired, symmetrical canopy. (2,4) The Chinese Pistache typically grows slightly taller than it does wide, giving rise to a moderately dense, oval crown. Older, lower branches tend to sag towards the ground over time, which eventually creates an evenly spread crown. The branches and trunk of the Chinese Pistache are resistant to breakage since they are composed of an extremely robust wood. (1)

Leaves: The Chinese Pistache has an alternate arrangement of pinnately compound deciduous leaves, which means that multiple leaflets are attached to several places along the rachis. (1) Although these numbers vary, the typical Chinese Pistache leaf is one foot long and consists of 10-16 leaflets that range from two to four inches in length. (1,4) A drawing of a Chinese Pistache leaf is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Attachment of leaflets to the rachis of a pinnately compound leaf. Image source: Gilman, E.F. Watson, D.G. Pistacia chinensis Chinese Pistache. US Forest Service, Department of Agriculture. Fact Sheet ST-482, October 1994.

Chinese Pistache trees appear to have an opposite leaf arrangement, however, the opposite leaflets form compound leaves, which alternate sides and attach individually at nodes along the stem. A view of the true, alternate leaf arrangement is provided in the close-up image of a Chinese Pistache twig in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Close-up image illustrating the alternate leaf arrangement of a Chinese Pistache twig. Image source: http://forestry.sfasu.edu/faculty/stovall/dendrology//images/tree_photos/pistchin/pistchin_twig1.jpg (Accessed Mar 19, 2017).

Chinese Pistache leaves are slightly aromatic and can release a subtle fragrance when punctured or bruised. (1,2) These leaves display an attractive, dark green color throughout summer. As fall approaches, the color of the foliage transitions towards a vibrant mixture of orange-red leaves, which gives rise to its brilliant autumnal aesthetics. (1) A side by side comparison of the summer and fall leaf colors is shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4: Fall and summer colors of mature Chinese Pistache trees. Image source: http://texastreeplanting.tamu.edu/treepictures/pistache_chinese.jpg (Accessed Mar 19, 2017).

Twigs & Bark: Chinese Pistache twigs are brown and moderately thick. The outer bark, which is grayish-brown in color, can crack and chip away over time to expose the bright, orange-red colored inner bark as seen in Figure 5. (1)

Figure 5: Close-up of mature Chinese Pistache trunk, showing the colors of the outer and inner bark. Image source: http://selectree.calpoly.edu/images/1000/86/original/pistacia-chinensis-bark-2.jpg (Accessed Mar 18, 2017).

Flowers & Fruits: Chinese Pistache flowers are red in color and are showy during the spring season. (1) These flowering plants are dioecious, meaning that the male and female reproductive organs exist in separate trees. Female Chinese Pistache trees can produce clusters of ornamental fruits whenever a male tree is close by. These fruits are classified as drupes, since they consist of a fleshy outer skin that surrounds a single pistachio-type nut. As seen in Figure 6, these berries are bright pink-red in color during the fall, but they turn a purple-red color as winter approaches. (1,2)

Figure 6: Cluster of Chinese Pistache berries. Image source: http://papaspearls.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Chinese-Pistache-Tree-Berries.jpg (Accessed Mar 19, 2017).

It is important to note that Chinese Pistache berries are inedible for humans, however, they provide a source of food for various species of birds and other small terrestrial organisms. (1,2,4)

Where it’s from

Native range: The Chinese Pistache is native to central and western China and Taiwan and it can also be found throughout a variety of Mediterranean climates where mild winters are followed by hot and dry summer conditions. (2,3) Its native habitat consists of mountain and hill forests with rocky soils, which typically exist anywhere from 330 – 11,800 ft (100-3600 m) above sea level. (5)

Ecological notes: The Chinese Pistache is not only heat and drought resistant, but it is also winter hardy, as it can withstand temperatures as low as 20°F (-6°C). (2) It is tolerant to a wide variety of soil types, such as clay, loam, sand, acidic, and alkaline soils. Although this tree can survive in many different environments, it should receive a minimum of six hours of unfiltered sunlight per day. (4) Its roots are non-invasive and grow deep, making this the ideal tree for lining sidewalks, patios, and structures. This tree is resistant to fire and pests however, it is susceptible to Verticillium wilt, which is why it should be planted in well-drained soils. (1,2) The map provided in Figure 7 shows the potential planting range for the Chinese Pistache across the United States.

Figure 7: The shaded area indicates the potential planting range for the Chinese Pistache across the United States. Image source: Gilman, E.F. Watson, D.G. Pistacia chinensis Chinese Pistache. US Forest Service, Department of Agriculture. Fact Sheet ST-482, October 1994

What we use it for

Because of its aesthetic and structural properties, the Chinese Pistache is primarily used as a decorative shade tree for residential streets and other urbanized areas, such as parking lot islands and sidewalk cutouts. (1) Its hardiness and tolerance to different soils allows this attractive, ornamental tree to survive in many different environments.

References

  • Gilman, E.F. Watson, D.G. Pistacia chinensis Chinese Pistache. US Forest Service, Department of Agriculture. Fact Sheet ST-482, October 1994
  • Pistacia chinensishttp://sonomamg.ucanr.edu/Plant_of_the_Month/Chinese_Pistache/ (accessed Mar 5, 2017).
  • McMillan, P. Some Notes on The Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis) And Its Propagation. Saratoga Horticultural Research Foundation, Inc. San Martin, CA.
  • Chinese Pistache Uses – Care Of Chinese Pistache Trees In The Landscape https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/trees/chinese-pistache/growing-chinese-pistache-tree.htm (accessed Mar 5, 2017).
  • Chinese Pistache - Pistacia chinensis - Extant & Habitat resource - Details - Encyclopedia of Life http://eol.org/pages/483509/ (accessed Apr 10, 2017).

Biographer: Chad Bowyer ’17, BIOL 336: Botany, Spring 2017

© 2017 HalieWestPhotography


Comments (5)

Ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

FIRST. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL WATERING THIS YEAR . insert your finger to the second knuckle and water deeply when the soil at the root level starts to warm or dry . superficial watering will not do . and provide a 4 to 6 foot ring of good mulch . to a depth of about 3 inches.. once it settles. keeping it off the bark .

SECOND . is it possible that what you are seeing is the tree growing its bark from a juvenile to mature type of bark .. without a picture . it is hard for me to say . it would answer that as the trunk matures and swells.. from the bottom up .. that this might be happening. very familiar to me on oaks. so smooth and grey in youth.. moving .. from the ground up into the cragly bark of an older tree .

but you say the thing was thriving. before you moved it anyway . PLEASE DONT HARM THE THING with too much love.. trying to fix a problem that really isnt there .

and stop scratching the limbs. you did your test.. i know you are anxious.. but too many wounds MIGHT end up worse than just allowing some patience .. you will know.. soon enough.. if it will make it through spring .


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Inventory is moving fast! Order now to reserve your plants. Due to cold weather and the risk of cold damage in transit, we will delay shipping to areas indicated on the map and below. We do this so your plant has the best opportunity to thrive in your landscape.

  • Orders in States: MT, WY, ND, SD, MN, WI, ME will start shipping May 1st
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  • Orders in other states will ship immediately along with non-plant orders to all states.

Some plants are not available for immediate shipment, but are available for pre-order and this will be indicated on the product page.

We will return to normal shipping schedules in the spring.

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The bark is grayish-brown but peels to reveal colorful salmon inner bark adding even more vibrant color. The Chinese Pistache offers plenty of shade with its wide and lush canopy.

This tree is incredibly low maintenance once it is established. The Chinese Pistache tree is heat, drought, and pollution tolerant and pest and disease resistant. It can grow in poor soil, including rocky and sandy soil. The soil should be well-drained.

Key Features

  • Fabulous fall foliage! This tree has the best fall display. The colors will set your landscape ablaze!
  • Unique ornamental tree. This interesting and beautiful tree stands out from the oaks and maples on your street! Make your landscape stand out with the magnificent Chinese Pistache tree!
  • Hardy tree. This tree is really tough. It stands up to heat, drought, pests, disease, smog, and rocky, sandy, and nutrient-poor soil!
  • Easy to grow. This tree doesn’t require any special care. Just plant and water. Once it is established it won’t even require watering!

We have healthy Chinese Pistache trees for sale. Buy one today and up your curb appeal!


Comments (8)

Aztreelvr

Chinese Pistache are usually single trunk and frankly, I can't remember ever seeing a multi-trunk tree. Sometimes the Pistache will sprout shoots along the trunk, but these are much smaller and are not considered multi-trunk. I'm wondering if a look-alike tree was used in your landscape instead like Brazilian Pepper.

It's really easy to tell the difference. Just crush a few leaves of your tree in your hand. When crushed, the leaves of Chinese Pistache have a distinctive smell. Compare this to leaves of a tree that you are sure is a Pistache - like at a reputable nursery. Brazilian Pepper leaves smell. well, "peppery".

Here is a link that might be useful: Chinese Pistache

Greenwich

Thank you for the tip. The guy assured them the specimens were Chinese Pistache. But, I was concerned that he is trying to pass off something else on them. The leaf structure looks like Chinese Pistache, but the form doesn't fit. We will try the test you mentioned, comparing it to both a Brazilian Pepper and a bona fide Pistache.

One would hope to get what was ordered when paying for mature, installed trees. Unfortunately, this landscaping project has been a real headache that won't seem to reach an end!


Pistacia Species, Chinese Pistache, Chinese Pistachio

Category:

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Foliage:

Foliage Color:

Height:

Spacing:

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Where to Grow:

Danger:

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

From seed direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed clean and dry seeds

Regional

This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Hot Springs Village, Arkansas

Citrus Heights, California(2 reports)

Rancho Calaveras, California

San Jose, California(3 reports)

Valley Springs, California

Albuquerque, New Mexico(2 reports)

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma(2 reports)

North Richland Hills, Texas

San Antonio, Texas(2 reports)

Martinsburg, West Virginia

Gardeners' Notes:

On Apr 2, 2019, Super65 from Moffat, TX wrote:

Invasive, and a threat to displace our native trees. There are always better choices for any situation from native trees in your area.

On May 19, 2017, ricearoni from Watkinsville, GA wrote:

Question - How close can I get to a septic tank or drain field when planting a Chinese Pistache?

On Nov 10, 2014, outdoorlover from Enid, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

This is an absolutely beautiful tree providing almost anything a person would want from a tree, tolerance of heat, soil, and drought, and providing stunning fall colors. It propagates itself very infrequently in our climate. Fast growing.

On Sep 29, 2014, Pistache from Norman, OK wrote:

My female(unfortunately) pistache does not produce good fall colors. It just turns faint yellow and then brown. Other trees in the area are spectacular so I don't think it is climate related. The tree appears to be very healthy. It is about 18ft tall and12ft wide. It has been suggested to me that soil acidity could be the problem. I'd appreciate any input on this.

On Sep 30, 2013, jazzy1okc from Oklahoma City, OK wrote:

This tree is one tough cookie! One of the top four trees highly recommended for its ability to withstand high winds, floods, ice storms, and everything else the climate here throws its way. The roots are not invasive, it does not shed anything but its leaves, it does not attract bothersome critters or insects, and it provides excellent shade.

On Dec 3, 2012, floramakros from Sacramento Valley, CA wrote:

Hi folks. Maybe Texas has a different variety but I don't recognize my trees in your description. I have a pair in the Sacramento Valley. I love these trees! Their fall color starts red but then pumps up to a brilliant yellow that defies description, much brighter even than ginkgos. They will stop neighborhood traffic if planted in the front yard (I've even had people driving by stop and come to my door to ask about the trees!) Mine are quite old, at least 50 yrs. They were planted as adults in 1975 (not by me!) My current home was part of a new development on a piece of treeless farmland then, so large trees were planted. The female is in the backyard and the male is in the front, he's over twice her height (sexual dimorphism?) It would make sense since I believe these are wind pollinate. read more d. In the spring he releases masses of pollen, they literally form small drifts on my driveway, the pollen "catkins" are visually unusual. The summer leaves are delicate and quite lovely, probably the best shade tree I've ever had. But the real fireworks are in the backyard. The female produces masses of grape-bunch looking nuts covered by green flesh. These turn yellow and then a very bright red, a minority turn bright blue, some are more purple but those are probably nuts in the process of changing color. WIth a green leaf backdrop she looks like a giant Christmas Wreath made of Holly Berries, spectacular! Then when all her leaves have fallen the beautiful bunches of nuts remain, they can easily be spotted from blocks away. Looking up into her canopy from below makes you never want to leave. Perhaps this cultivar was bred for its lack of germination because I've never had problems with seedlings. You will also never see so much wildlife in your life, I've counted over 50 bird species that visit her to eat the nuts, including species like Northern red-shafted flickers and large Pileated Woodpeckers that you wouldn't expect to feed on them. Yellow-Billed Magpies (an endemic species only found in the Sacramento Valley) love them too, they look like Mynah Birds with very long tails. There are tiny finches that eat the still unripe green nuts and various others who only eat certain stages, some will only feed on fallen ones but most like to pick them off the tree. I can imagine a birder checking off his entire species bucket list just by watching my tree through a window! Squirrels love them too and play like monkeys in the tree all day, the entertainment is endless. I would never see many of these species in person if it wasn't for her, that alone makes her presence valuable beyond measure. If you lay still under her, some of the rarest birds in the area will feed just feet above you in perfect calm. This is truly one of the few trees I can honestly say has changed my life and brought nature literally to my doorstep.

On Jul 22, 2012, vossner from East Texas,
United States (Zone 8a) wrote:

I remember when Chinese Pistache was the darling of the gardening/landscaping community and not long ago, either. Now it has become a nightmare.

Kudzu deja vu all over again. (hope not)

On Jul 21, 2012, TreeGuyCliff from Austin, TX wrote:

If I could rate this tree more negatively than Negative, I would.

Te Chinese pistache has been planted in public spaces and sold in nurseries in Austin, Texas, for at least 20 years. And it has turned out to be a time bomb, producing an explosively expanding wave of seedlings throughout the parks, preserves, and other natural areas throughout Central Texas. It was initially recommended for its fall color, handsome form, moderately fast growth rate, tolerance of alkaline soils, and resistance to disease and pests. Its invasive tendencies quickly moved it from the recommended list to the "do not plant" list.

As for whether its seed is viable, each female tree produces hundreds of panicles of seed, each containing hundreds of seeds. So one female tree produces t. read more ens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of fruits. You can tell how many fruits contain a fertile seed: If they're black or blue, they do if they're red, they don't. If they're missing, they're a black or blue seed that was eaten by a bird.

Using that color system, my offhand observation is that easily half of the seeds produced in my area are fertile. Even if I'm off by a factor of 10, we're still talking thousands of viable seeds per female tree. And the germination rate for scarified seeds in the greenhouse—a pretty close approximation of a seed that has passed through a bird's gut—is 30 percent.

So for each female tree, we're talking hundreds to tens of thousands of new seedlings. EACH YEAR.

For those of you who are planting seedless cultivars, that just means they're male trees. So you are supplying more pollen to all the female trees already out there. And that means that even more of the seeds the females produce will be viable. (Funny how that birds-and-the-bees-and-the-flowers-and-the-trees thing works, isn't it?)

If you have it growing in your yard, cut it down and turn it into mulch for the well-behaved tree you will plant to replace it. (In Granbury and other places in or close to the limestone belt that extends along I-35 south to San Antonio and then along U.S. 90 almost to Del Rio, the native chinquapin oak is an outstanding replacement. It has comparable fall color varying from burgundy to red to golden, depending on the individual tree, is at least as drought resistant, and grows faster, but isn't weak-wooded. In rural areas, you might like that its acorns make outstanding food for deer.)

If you see it growing in the wild, get permission and RIP IT OUT.

On Aug 16, 2011, Gianinatio from Austin, TX wrote:

I have never planted this tree, nor do I see great numbers of large trees planted in this part of west Austin (the hills). However, I've been living in this same spot for 20 years now and within the past 3 years or so i've noticed an alarming number of seedlings coming up everywhere in my yard, in the park, in the wilderness areas. They are easy to identify from similarly leafed walnuts and sumacs because of their strong aroma. Even this years excessive drought and heat have not killed seedlings off. I'm certain from what I've seen that they are on the path to be more invasive than any of our current invasive species (ligustrum lucidum, Chinese Tallow, photinia, nandina, Chinaberry) and agree with other comments that they should be banned. In all places I have seen them I don't k. read more now where the source female tree is located, indicating how far from the source the birds can seed these trees.

On Jul 8, 2011, Wesleys_trees from San Jose, CA wrote:

The Chinese Pistache tree was planted in parking strips along residential areas in the City of San Jose, Ca in the 1970's. These trees provide great shade in the hot summer. The female tree produces huge amounts of berries. The birds nest and eat and poop purple all over the street and vehicles parked under them. The male trees produce huge pollen clusters in the Spring. The Fall leaf color is spectacular however.

The problem is the full grown tree is an accident waiting to happen. The wood is a very soft type that will easily snap or break off large (6 inch diameter or larger) limbs. They have been doing this for the past few years during very hot spells where the temperatures are in the mid to high 90's for several days. Most fall onto the sidewalks or street parki. read more ng spaces.

Several trees are also toppling over due to apparent root rot. All this without any apparent warning. They just start leaning over and will crush any vehicle they fall over onto.

Finally, the mature trees send out horizontal roots that lift sidewalks and will extend under the streets and lift the curbs.

In San Jose, the homeowner is responsible to maintain (replace the sidewalks and street curbs) and be liable for any and all damage even when the tree is in the public way infront of their homes. The homeowner also must obtain a City permit (free of charge) to prune these trees. The homeowner is responsible for any costs of pruning. They also must obtain permission from the City to remove or replace these trees.

This problem seems to be caused by the mature tree. So if you are planting a new tree and do not plan to be around in 25 or more years, this may not be a problem for you.

On Apr 29, 2011, JerryAssburger from Peyton, CO wrote:

As in a previous post, I lived in the Phoenix area, and this tree was becoming one of the "Best Kept Secrets" because hardly anyone carried or planted them a few years ago mainly because Chinese Pistaches are a bit slow to develop into a shapely tree. Right before I left for Colorado, they were starting to catch on. A nice tree for the patient! I'm now attempting to grow one in Peyton, Colorado (out on The Plains) just to see how well it will do. It's pretty close to it's Northern Climate limit, but otherwise should do ok. Last fall (the 1st year) an early frost hardly allowed it to change colors before dumping its leaves. I'll report later this Summer on how its doing.

On Feb 16, 2011, Gardeningman from Kingman, KS (Zone 6b) wrote:

The Chinese Pistache is a great tree despite the bad rap it has gotten for being invasive. Only the female trees are invasive and that is only if there is a male tree near by to pollinate the flowers. The seeds in the unpolinated fruit, which remain red, will not germinate. There is also a new male cultivor 'Keith Davies' that doesn't produce any fruit.
As far as "mesiness" goes, I don't find the Chinese Pistache any messier than any other tree. Oak trees produce acorns, maple trees produce maple seeds, elm trees drop twigs every where, and all trees grow leaves My point is that all trees are "messy". If you don't like to rake up a "mess" then don't plant any trees. Personally, I would rather deal with tiny berries than acorns or maple seeds. At least you can mow over the be. read more rries and they don't blow around. But that is just what I prefer.
I recommend the Chinese Pistache just make sure you plant a solitary tree in case it ends up being a female or choose the 'Keith Davies' cultivor.

On Oct 13, 2010, aggiebot5 from College Station, TX wrote:

Really heat tolerant, great fall color, good shade, nice shape. You'd think it'd be a wonderful tree. However, it has escaped cultivation and is displacing native trees. It has the potential to be very, very serious. We don't need another exotic weed. Please don't plant this!

On Sep 23, 2010, susie70 from Albuquerque, NM wrote:

We have found what looks like sap leaking and crusting over from an area with a few cracks on one of the more mature limbs. The tree is 5 years old and healthy and leaves are dark green with little or no die off.
The spot in question is about 3 inches in diameter and is on a limb about 4 feet off the ground and the damaged area is near the trunk of the tree. I have asked the local horticultural extension agent about it and sent her a picture. From what I read from info on this tree, the spot could be a canker, for which there is not treatment or cure.
I may ignore it and see what happens as it is a nice shade tree on our patio.

On Dec 2, 2009, BillChilton from Granbury, TX wrote:

Planted 5 chinese pistache trees in march 2008, 2 in back yard abd 3 in the front. Both in back yard ( 1 male & 1 female) are great. All 3 in the front (2 female, 1 male) are terrible, loosing leaves early and not growing well. Both areas, front & rear, get the same watering and have the same type of soil. Any suggestions? If so email me at w[email protected]

On May 20, 2009, Agaveguy from San Antonio, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

This plant was highly promoted for landscapes over the past 30 years. It is now becoming a severely invasive, foreign pest in central Texas. It should be banned.

On Sep 4, 2007, clinsley from San Jose, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

This tree was planted by the city of San Jose next to the street a few years ago. Unlike GennyQ, we do have blooms and fruit. It's a nice shade tree, but it is messy and it seeds itself freely we have dozens of seedlings all over the yard.

On Dec 27, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Chinese Pistache, Chinese Pistachio Pistacia chinensis is naturalized in Texas and other States and is considered an invasive plant in Texas.

On Dec 8, 2005, escambiaguy from Atmore, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:

There are alot of these trees planted in the town square of a neighboring town. I have not noticed any great fall color this year. My main concern with these trees is that they may become invasive like alot of other asian trees.

On May 9, 2005, doss from Stanford, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

First the positive. In warmer regions, I believe that this is the best plant for fall red color - the Ginko gets the yellow prize. It forms a dense shade canopy rather quickly, while still being a long lived tree. The leaves are very attractive and lacy looking. It is one of my very favorite trees to look at. It forms a beautiful crown with little pruning and is hardy enough to use in strip plantings beside roads. People come from other neighborhoods each fall to see a street that is planted with nothing else. It's pretty breathtaking.

The drawbacks are that it forms dense shade, if that's a problem. And the berries at the end of summer have a very pungent smell that I'm not fond of. The dropping berries can make this tree a little messy too - and when you step o. read more n them they release their pungent odor big time. Some may not mind this, or may even find it pleasant. I wouldn't plant it in my back yard but would be happy to plant it in an area where I could appreciate it from a little distance.

On Jul 24, 2004, GennyQ from San Jose, CA wrote:

We have 2 of these trees in our front yard in San Jose, Ca. Since they were established (the first year), I haven't had to water them at all. they seem to have found their own water source. We're subject to long periods of drought, yet these trees have thrived and flourished. We've had absolutely no blooms or fruit (read: no mess) - they're 4-5 years old. Their color display in the Fall is GORGEOUS!

On Dec 29, 2003, agl from Dallas, TX wrote:

I planted 4 in my landscape in Dallas Tx. Each were 3", balled and burlapped and around 12 ft or so. After planting, I used drip bags to establish. After 2 years they are now around 25 feet apiece and I have experienced no watering problem or excessive fruit. My fall display depended upon how much watering was received as they approach dormancy. I cut in half the watering 4/6 weeks before then (typically late October here) and experienced Flaming Red showings.

On Sep 3, 2003, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

A fast growing, beautiful tree that provides shade in a short period of time, the Pistache is a recommended tree for southcentral Texas. My specimen was planted when it was about 6 feet tall. It had to be "topped" in order for lateral branches to emege where I wanted them to do so.

The information on the tag stated that it was nonbearing however, it produces numerous small clusters of flowers which develop into clusters of very small pistachio nuts. These would be okay except they fall all over my patio area and into my container plantings and have to be constantly removed. New trees develop from these and are easily pulled up when small.

Being among oaks, the tree does not receive enough sunlight to enable it to exhibit the bright red foliage in the fall.. read more Admittedly, the lack of fall coloring may be due to our usually mild temperatures in the fall last year when we had earlier really cold weather, all of the trees whose foliage is able to turn to beautiful fall colors did so, and my Pistache was a little more colorful. Its bark is nicely mottled. After established it requires little water and maintenance (except for the litter pick up).


Try Chinese Pistache for a Small Tree Selection

Many people often request a recommendation for a small tree that will be suitable for their landscape and one to consider is the Chinese Pistache, Pistachia chinensis. Although not a native tree, Chinese Pistache does not have invasive potential so it can make a suitable option for both commercial and residential landscapes.

Berries also offer nice fall color. Photo by Beth Bolles, UF IFAS Extension Escambia County

The best features of Chinese Pistache are the fall color it offers with orange leaves, followed by clusters of salmon berries. It will lose its leaves as days shorten but you can enjoy the textured bark during the winter season. Compound leaves offer interest as well during the spring and summer. Adding some medium to fine textured foliage plants under and around trees will provide a nice landscape display.

Chinese Pistache has been an attractive feature in the Escambia County Demonstration Garden for over 20 years. Photo by Beth Bolles, UF IFAS Extension Escambia County

A positive feature of Chinese Pistache is that once it is established, it is tolerant of drought. Expect trees to be about 25 to 30 feet in height with a 20 to 25 foot spread. Each tree will have it own unique branch structure and some pruning will be required when trees are young to develop strong connections. You may plant as a full sun tree to provide a little dappled shade for your garden or use as an understory tree in partial shade.


Watch the video: Trimming small Chinese Pistache


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