Xeriscape Landscape Plants & Flowers
For The Arizona Desert Environment.
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Chinese Tallow Tree, Sapium sebiferum.

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Chinese Tallow Tree, Sapium sebiferum. Also called: Candleberry Tree, Chicken Tree, Popcorn Tree, Florida Aspen, Croton sebiferum, & Sapium sebiferum. Xeriscape Landscape Plants & Flowers For The Arizona Desert Environment. Pictures, Photos, Images, Descriptions, & Reviews.
Chinese Tallow Tree, Sapium sebiferum.
Chinese Tallow Tree, Sapium sebiferum. Also called: Candleberry Tree, Chicken Tree, Popcorn Tree, Florida Aspen, Croton sebiferum, & Sapium sebiferum. Xeriscape Landscape Plants & Flowers For The Arizona Desert Environment. Pictures, Photos, Images, Descriptions, & Reviews.Chinese Tallow Tree, Sapium sebiferum. Also called: Candleberry Tree, Chicken Tree, Popcorn Tree, Florida Aspen, Croton sebiferum, & Sapium sebiferum. Xeriscape Landscape Plants & Flowers For The Arizona Desert Environment. Pictures, Photos, Images, Descriptions, & Reviews.
Chinese Tallow Tree,
Sapium sebiferum.
Chinese Tallow Tree,
Sapium sebiferum.

Chinese Tallow Tree.
Sapium sebiferum, Spurge Family: ( Euphorbiaceae ), Chinese Tallow Tree. Also called: Candleberry Tree, Chicken Tree, Popcorn Tree, Florida Aspen, Croton sebiferum, & Sapium sebiferum.

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Chinese Tallow is a deciduous tree growing to around 25 feet tall with a medium crown. In autumn the leaves turn crimson, with some yellow and orange foliage. In November and December green - yellow flower spikes appear on the tips of the branches, they are followed by three - celled capsules. The fruit ripens and then turns brown in autumn, it then splits open to reveal the three seeds which are covered with a layer of white wax.

In southern China, a substantial industry once revolved around the harvesting and processing of its waxy seeds. They were thrown into boiling water to remove the wax, which was skimmed off and used to make candles. The seeds were then pressed to extract an oil for use in lamps, as a purgative, and for making oil-paper and soap.

Chinese tallow tree will grow in most soils, but prefers a well-drained sandy loam enriched with organic matter. Water well until the tree becomes established. Plant in a warm sunny position for the best autumn color.

NOTE: While many different books from different city and state governments recommend this tree as a xeriscape tree; we strongly discourage anyone from planting one!

The tree is not pool friendly, it is trashy, and of very high maintance! Everyone we know, who has one, either has paid to have it removed, or wishes it would die!


Quick Notes:

Height: Usually up to 25 feet. Spread may reach 40 feet.

Flowers: Monoecious; inconspicuous, light green in small tight clusters.

Flowering Time: February - April.

Leaves: Alternate, simple, elliptical to broadly lanceolate, to 2 inches long, pinnately veined, twice serrate margin; base of leaf is inequilateral, shiny dark green above and nearly glabrous, pale below.

Trunk: Normally up to 8 - 18 inches in diameter.


Bark: Light - gray with shallow, irregular furrows. The stems contain an irritant milky sap.


Fruit & Seeds: Has a flattened, winged samara, nearly round but notched at the top, 1/2 inch long, light reddish brown, occuring in tight clusters.


Found: Origin: Northern China, eastern Siberia, Manchuria, and Korea, first introduced into America in the 1860's. It is now considered to be a native plant by the USDA, to the USA (AL, AR, CA, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TX).


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)

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Elevation: Can be found growing from 0 - 3,937 feet.

Habitat: Used as a very common landscape plant in Phoenix. Found wild in riparian canyons and large washes with a perennial source of water. Maintenance: High leaf drop. Not pool friendly. Photos Taken June 06, 2006 Glendale, Arizona.

Miscellaneous: Photos Taken; June 6, 2006. In Glendale, Arizona Xeriscape Demonstration Garden. it is considered a xeriscape plant. It must have some water. We strongly do not recommend it as it is very high maintance. Not pool friendly!

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