Chinese Pistache

Scientific name: Pistacia chinensis
Family: Anacardiaceae
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Chinese Pistache tree
Fruit/ Seeds


Angiosperm, Dicot, deciduous


Average adult height: 30-60 feet
Average adult canopy width: 25-35 feet

Identifying Features:

*Leaves are yellow-green in summer and turn red-orange in the fall
*Alternate leaf arrangement; lanceolate leaflet shape
*10-12 leaflets per compound leaf, opposite leaflet arrangement
*Oval canopy shape
*Ashy-brown bark that peels to reveal salmon-colored inner bark
*Small fruits on the female tree are green in summer and turn a showy red in fall
*Male flowers are small and green, and female flowers are red


The Chinese Pistache is native to China, the Philippine Islands, and Taiwan. These trees can survive in a variety of environments, and can tolerate highly alkaline soil, drought, extreme heat, and down to -25 degree Celsius temperatures. They have been introduced in many other areas like the United States and Europe.


The Chinese Pistache is dioecious. Male and female trees each have distinct types of flowers, both of which bloom in April. Male flowers are small and green, and grow from 2-3 inch panicles. The female flower grows on a 7-9 inch panicle and is red. The fruits, which are contained on the female tree, are small 1/4 inch long red drupes: a single seed surrounded by a fleshy covering. These brightly colored fruits attract birds and small rodents, which the tree relies on for dispersal of seeds. Fruits ripen around October, and are usually eaten by November. Female trees only produce fruit when there are male trees nearby to provide pollen.

Water/Sun Requirements:

The Chinese Pistache requires full sun exposure and relatively little water. A deep watering once a week (in the absence of rain) will suffice.

Special Adaptations:

*The thick, durable bark of the Chinese Pistache helps protect it from wind, extreme temperature, decay, and injury, making the tree suitable for many different environments. The trees can survive harsh conditions as well as poor quality soil.

Other Info:

*Chinese Pistache are commonly planted in residential areas and parking lots because they make excellent shade trees and are low-maintanance.
*Chinese Pistache trees are commonly used as the understock for grafting the commercial pistachio tree.
*Diseases that affect the Chinese Pistache include Verticillium wilts and oak root fungus.
*Chinese Pistache are perennial

Reference Sources/Links:

Created by Katrina G. 2007