Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Chinese Tallow-tree - Triadica sebifera   (L.) Small
Members of Euphorbiaceae:
Only member of Triadica in NC.
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Section 6 » Order Euphorbiales » Family Euphorbiaceae
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Author(L.) Small
DistributionMostly southern Coastal Plain and Sandhills, but recently spreading northward to Wake and Durham counties and west to Mecklenburg County. First collected in NC in Pender Co. in 1939; next in Columbus Co. in 1948; and Richmond Co. in 1959. Most records are from 2001 onward. This aggressive alien should be eradicated wherever possible.

Native to southeastern Asia; in N.A. on the Coastal Plain from NC to FL, TX, AR; also CA.
AbundanceUncommon to infrequent in the southeastern Coastal Plain, but rare in the Sandhills and southeastern Piedmont, so far as is known. None of the populations in NC has been described as large. In the Gulf Coastal states, small to medium trees can occur abundantly and displace native vegetation.
HabitatMoist to wet soil of margin of beaver pond, lake shore, marsh by river, low spot in powerline, edge of woods, roadside, waste area. Tends to be seen along margins of moist woods and marsh edges in NC.
PhenologyFlowering May-June; fruiting August-November. Birds eat the fruits and transport the seeds.
IdentificationSmall trees occur up to 40 feet tall, with a relatively narrow crown. The leaves are long-stalked, wider than long or equal, and have an abrupt, pointy drip-tip. Flowers of both sexes grow on a narrow raceme, yellow to yellow-green. Fruits are capsules, the outer seed coat fleshy-waxy and white. In autumn the leaves turn brilliant orange-red.
Taxonomic CommentsA synonym is Sapium sebiferum.

Other Common Name(s)Popcorn Tree
State RankSE
Global RankGNR
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