Synonym(s): Croton sebiferum, Sapium sebiferum
Family: Euphorbiaceae (Spurge Family)
Duration and Habit: Perennial Tree
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Deciduous tree to 60 feet (18 m) in height and 3 feet (90 cm) in diameter, with ovalish- to rhomboid-shaped leaves, dangling yellowish spikes in spring yielding small clusters of three-lobed fruit that split to reveal popcorn-like seeds in fall and winter.
Native Lookalikes: Currently no information available, or there are no native species that could be confused with Chinese tallow tree.
Ecological Threat: Chinese tallow will transform native habitats into monospecific (single species) tallow forests in the absence of land management practices. Chinese tallow alters light availability for other plant species. Fallen tallow leaves contain toxins that create unfavorable soil conditions for native plant species. Chinese tallow will outcompete native plant species, reducing habitat for wildlife as well as forage areas for livestock.
Biology & Spread: Can reach reproductive age in as little as three years and prolifically produces seeds, which are readily transported by water and birds. Flowers mature March through May and fruit ripens August through November. Also propagates via cuttings, stumps, and roots.
History: Chinese tallowtree is native to China and Japan. It was introduced into the United States in the 1700?s in South Carolina. It was distributed in the Gulf Coast in the 1900?s by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in an attempt to establish a soap making industry.
U.S. Habitat: Invades stream banks, riverbanks, and wet areas like ditches as well as upland sites. Thrives in both freshwater and saline soils. Shade tolerant, flood tolerant, and allelopathic. Increasing widely through ornamental plantings. Spreading by bird- and water-dispersed seeds and colonizing by prolific surface root sprouts.
U.S. Nativity: Introduced to U.S.
Native Origin: Temp. Asia-China & Taiwan (Germplasm Resources Information Network); Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0.
U.S. Present: AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TX
Distribution: Current distribution includes all of the Southeastern United States from Texas to Florida, North Carolina to Arkansas, and it was recently discovered in California.
List All Observations of Triadica sebifera reported by Citizen Scientists
Apply a triclopyr herbicide to basal bark in late summer or early fall (such as 20% Garlon 4 in oil) or, for large trees, apply directly to the stump after cutting down the tree (use Rodeo for trees growing in water). Pull up seedlings by hand. Large land areas can be managed by mowing and the careful use of controlled burns.USE PESTICIDES WISELY: ALWAYS READ THE ENTIRE PESTICIDE LABEL CAREFULLY, FOLLOW ALL MIXING AND APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS AND WEAR ALL RECOMMENDED PERSONAL PROTECTIVE GEAR AND CLOTHING. CONTACT YOUR STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE FOR ANY ADDITIONAL PESTICIDE USE REQUIREMENTS, RESTRICTIONS OR RECOMMENDATIONS. MENTION OF PESTICIDE PRODUCTS ON THIS WEB SITE DOES NOT CONSTITUTE ENDORSEMENT OF ANY MATERIAL.
Miller, J.H. 2003. Nonnative invasive plants of southern forests: a field guide for identification and control. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-62. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 93 pp (USDA SRS).
The Quiet Invasion:A Guide to Invasive Plants of the Galveston Bay Area
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