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Chinese Pistache

Chinese Pistache

Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis)

Chinese Pistache
Pistacia chinensis
(piss-TAY-shee-uh chi-NEN-sis)

Chinese Pistachio


Introduced from China, this is the ugly duckling of trees: gawky, awkward and lopsided when young, maturing into a symmetrical form with an umbrella-like crown

Plant habit
Medium sized shade tree

Landscape use
Plant as a specimen tree or group several informally to provide an attractive fall foliage display.  An ideal specimen for a xeric garden.

Average mature size
60’ tall x 50’ wide

Growth rate
Moderate to fast.  Relatively long lived.

Sun exposure
Sun, part sun/shade

Soil requirements
Tolerates most soils, including those in urban conditions.  Develops a deep root system; does not usually interfere with foundations.

Water requirements
Low; prefers dry conditions

Heat tolerance

Deciduous, deep green, pinnately compound leaves with a mild radish-like fragrance when crushed.  Autumn hues can range from yellow, gold, salmon, orange, red, scarlet, crimson and maroon, often a brilliant mix on one tree.

Dioecious; flowers only on female trees.  Inconspicuous, green/white flowers

Blooming period

Zigzag branching and exfoliating bark provide winter interest

Fruit characteristics
Female trees produce red-orange fruit that ripen to purple in the fall, not usually a maintenance issue.  Attracts birds and other wildlife.

Pests and disease
None serious

Pruning may be necessary early on to develop a symmetrical structure

“Add one or more of these trees to your landscape, especially if your space is limited and you want a tough, trouble-free tree for fall color.” – Dale Groom, Dale Groom’s Texas Gardening Guide