Chinese Pistache
Pistacia chinensis is a small to medium-sized tree
A tree is a perennial woody plant. It is most often defined as a woody plant that has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground on a single main stem or trunk with clear apical dominance. A minimum height specification at maturity is cited by some authors, varying from 3 m to...

 in the genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

Pistacia is a genus of flowering plants in the cashew family, Anacardiaceae. It contains ten to twenty species that are native to Africa and Eurasia from the Canary Islands, whole Africa, and southern Europe, warm and semi-desert areas across Asia, and also North America from Mexico to warm and...

in the cashew
The cashew is a tree in the family Anacardiaceae. Its English name derives from the Portuguese name for the fruit of the cashew tree, caju, which in turn derives from the indigenous Tupi name, acajú. It is now widely grown in tropical climates for its cashew nuts and cashew apples.-Etymology:The...

 family, Anacardiaceae
Anacardiaceae are a family of flowering plants bearing fruits that are drupes and in some cases producing urushiol, an irritant. Anacardiaceae include numerous genera with several of economic importance. Notable plants in this family include cashew , mango, poison ivy, sumac, smoke tree, and marula...

, native to central and western China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. It is hardy
-Canada:* Port Hardy, British Columbia* Hardy Island Marine Provincial Park, British Columbia-United States:* Hardy, Arkansas* Hardy, California* Hardy, Iowa* Hardy, Kentucky* Hardy, Nebraska* Hardy, Virginia* Hardy, Mississippi* Hardy County, West Virginia...

, can withstand harsh conditions and poor quality soil
Soil is a natural body consisting of layers of mineral constituents of variable thicknesses, which differ from the parent materials in their morphological, physical, chemical, and mineralogical characteristics...

s, and grows from 9-15 m, exceptionally up to 25 m. The leaves
A leaf is an organ of a vascular plant, as defined in botanical terms, and in particular in plant morphology. Foliage is a mass noun that refers to leaves as a feature of plants....

 are deciduous
Deciduous means "falling off at maturity" or "tending to fall off", and is typically used in reference to trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally, and to the shedding of other plant structures such as petals after flowering or fruit when ripe...

, alternate, pinnate, 20-25 cm long, with 10 or 12 leaflets, the terminal leaflet usually absent. The flower
A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants . The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs...

s are produced in panicle
A panicle is a compound raceme, a loose, much-branched indeterminate inflorescence with pedicellate flowers attached along the secondary branches; in other words, a branched cluster of flowers in which the branches are racemes....

s 15-20 cm long at the ends of the branches; it is dioecious
Plant sexuality
Plant sexuality covers the wide variety of sexual reproduction systems found across the plant kingdom. This article describes morphological aspects of sexual reproduction of plants....

, with separate male and female plants. The fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

 is a small red drupe
In botany, a drupe is a fruit in which an outer fleshy part surrounds a shell of hardened endocarp with a seed inside. These fruits develop from a single carpel, and mostly from flowers with superior ovaries...

, turning blue when ripe, containing a single seed
A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food. It is the product of the ripened ovule of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants which occurs after fertilization and some growth within the mother plant...

. This species is planted as a street tree in temperate areas worldwide due to its attractive fruit and autumn foliage.


Deciduous trees, about 20 m tall; bark dark brown. Petioles minutely pubescent, flattened above; leaf blade imparipinnately compound with 1-13 opposite leaflets; leaf rachis striate, minutely pubescent; petiolule 1-2 mm; leaflet blade lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate, or rarely linear-lanceolate, 5-10 × 1.5-2.5 cm, papery, base oblique, margin entire, apex acuminate or long acuminate, on both sides minutely pubescent along midrib and lateral veins and with prominent venation. Flowers produced before leafing; male inflorescence 6-7 cm, with clustered branches, female inflorescence lax, 15-20 cm, rachis minutely pubescent; floral subtending bracts lanceolate, 1.5-2 mm, minutely pubescent. Pedicels ca. 1 mm, minutely pubescent. Male flowers with 2 lanceolate bracteoles and 2 linear-lanceolate tepals, ca. 1.5 mm; stamens 3-5, filaments less than 0.5 mm, anthers oblong, ca. 2 mm; pistillode absent. Female flowers with 2-4 linear-lanceolate bracteoles and 5 ovate or oblong tepals, 0.7-1.5 × 0.5-0.7 mm; ovary globose, ca. 0.5 mm in diam., glabrous, stigmas thick, red. Drupe obovate-globose, slightly compressed, ca. 5 mm in diam., longitudinally striate in dried condition. Fl. Mar-May, fr. Aug-Nov.


Synonyms include: Pistacia formosana Matsumura; P. philippinensis Merrill & Rolfe; Rhus argyi H. Léveillé; R. gummifera H. Léveillé.

Some botanists include Pistacia integerrima
Pistacia integerrima
Pistacia integerrima is a species of pistachio tree native to Asia. Its common names in Hindi include kakar singhi, kakra, and kakring. It is used for a variety of purposes in India, including timber, dye, and fodder...

in this species as P. chinensis ssp. integerrima, with the plants considered here then becoming P. chinensis ssp. chinensis.

Distribution and habitat

Native range on hill and mountain forests on rocky soils; 100-3600 m. It is found in many provinces of China and Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...



Chinese Pistache grows best in full sun, being intolerant of shade; it is the most frost-tolerant species of Pistacia
Pistacia is a genus of flowering plants in the cashew family, Anacardiaceae. It contains ten to twenty species that are native to Africa and Eurasia from the Canary Islands, whole Africa, and southern Europe, warm and semi-desert areas across Asia, and also North America from Mexico to warm and...

, tolerating temperatures down to about -25°C. Yet it is most highly regarded in warm climates. It is planted for its impressive fall colors, which develop at least as far south as Orlando, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Orlando is a city in the central region of the U.S. state of Florida. It is the county seat of Orange County, and the center of the Greater Orlando metropolitan area. According to the 2010 US Census, the city had a population of 238,300, making Orlando the 79th largest city in the United States...

. In the low-elevation deserts of Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

, it is the only tree whose leaves turn scarlet in fall.


Horticulturally, because it is very drought tolerant and can survive harsh environments, it is a popular choice for street tree in urban settings. It is also used as an understock for Pistacia vera. In China the oil from the seeds is used for biodiesel production. The wood is used for production of furniture and yields a yellow dye.
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