Chinese Pistache, Chinese Pistachio

Pistacia chinensis

Family: Anacardiaceae (an-a-kard-ee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Pistacia (piss-TAY-shee-uh) (Info)
Species: chinensis (chi-NEN-sis) (Info)
Synonym:Pistacia formosana
Synonym:Pistacia philippinensis
Synonym:Rhus argyi
Synonym:Rhus gummifera



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

over 40 ft. (12 m)


20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)


USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

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)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:


Pale Green

Bloom Time:

Late Winter/Early Spring

Mid Spring


Grown for foliage



Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

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)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:


Atmore, Alabama

Huntsville, Alabama

Benson, Arizona

Oracle, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona (2 reports)

Queen Creek, Arizona

Superior, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

Altadena, California

Citrus Heights, California

Clayton, California

El Macero, California

Madera, California

Penn Valley, California

Rancho Calaveras, California

San Jose, California (3 reports)

Simi Valley, California

Stanford, California

Temecula, California

Grand Junction, Colorado

Deltona, Florida

Savannah, Georgia

Kingman, Kansas

Deridder, Louisiana

Las Vegas, Nevada

Albuquerque, New Mexico (2 reports)

Los Lunas, New Mexico

Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Davidson, North Carolina

Enid, Oklahoma

Norman, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (2 reports)

Tulsa, Oklahoma (2 reports)

Wewoka, Oklahoma

Yukon, Oklahoma

Austin, Texas (4 reports)

Dallas, Texas

El Paso, Texas

Granbury, Texas

Hereford, Texas

Iredell, Texas

Irving, Texas

North Richland Hills, Texas

Port Arthur, Texas

Royse City, Texas

San Angelo, Texas

San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)

Weatherford, Texas

Wichita Falls, Texas

Lexington, Virginia

Martinsburg, West Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Nov 10, 2014, outdoorlover from Enid, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

This is an absolutely beautiful tree providing almost anything a person would want from a tree, tolerance of heat, soil, and drought, and providing stunning fall colors. It propagates itself very infrequently in our climate. Fast growing.


On Sep 29, 2014, Pistache from Norman, OK wrote:

My female(unfortunately) pistache does not produce good fall colors. It just turns faint yellow and then brown. Other trees in the area are spectacular so I don't think it is climate related. The tree appears to be very healthy. It is about 18ft tall and12ft wide. It has been suggested to me that soil acidity could be the problem. I'd appreciate any input on this.


On Sep 30, 2013, jazzy1okc from Oklahoma City, OK wrote:

This tree is one tough cookie! One of the top four trees highly recommended for its ability to withstand high winds, floods, ice storms, and everything else the climate here throws its way. The roots are not invasive, it does not shed anything but its leaves, it does not attract bothersome critters or insects, and it provides excellent shade.


On Dec 3, 2012, floramakros from Davis, CA wrote:

Hi folks. Maybe Texas has a different variety but I don't recognize my trees in your description. I have a pair in the Sacramento Valley. I love these trees! Their fall color starts red but then pumps up to a brilliant yellow that defies description, much brighter even than ginkgos. They will stop neighborhood traffic if planted in the front yard (I've even had people driving by stop and come to my door to ask about the trees!) Mine are quite old, at least 50 yrs. They were planted as adults in 1975 (not by me!) My current home was part of a new development on a piece of treeless farmland then, so large trees were planted. The female is in the backyard and the male is in the front, he's over twice her height (sexual dimorphism?) It would make sense since I believe these are wind pollinate... read more


On Jul 22, 2012, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I remember when Chinese Pistache was the darling of the gardening/landscaping community and not long ago, either. Now it has become a nightmare.

Kudzu deja vu all over again.....(hope not)


On Jul 21, 2012, TreeGuyCliff from Austin, TX wrote:

If I could rate this tree more negatively than Negative, I would.

Te Chinese pistache has been planted in public spaces and sold in nurseries in Austin, Texas, for at least 20 years. And it has turned out to be a time bomb, producing an explosively expanding wave of seedlings throughout the parks, preserves, and other natural areas throughout Central Texas. It was initially recommended for its fall color, handsome form, moderately fast growth rate, tolerance of alkaline soils, and resistance to disease and pests. Its invasive tendencies quickly moved it from the recommended list to the "do not plant" list.

As for whether its seed is viable, each female tree produces hundreds of panicles of seed, each containing hundreds of seeds. So one female tree produces t... read more


On Aug 16, 2011, Gianinatio from Austin, TX wrote:

I have never planted this tree, nor do I see great numbers of large trees planted in this part of west Austin (the hills). However, I've been living in this same spot for 20 years now and within the past 3 years or so i've noticed an alarming number of seedlings coming up everywhere in my yard, in the park, in the wilderness areas. They are easy to identify from similarly leafed walnuts and sumacs because of their strong aroma. Even this years excessive drought and heat have not killed seedlings off. I'm certain from what I've seen that they are on the path to be more invasive than any of our current invasive species (ligustrum lucidum, Chinese Tallow, photinia, nandina, Chinaberry) and agree with other comments that they should be banned. In all places I have seen them I don't k... read more


On Jul 8, 2011, Wesleys_trees from San Jose, CA wrote:

The Chinese Pistache tree was planted in parking strips along residential areas in the City of San Jose, Ca in the 1970's. These trees provide great shade in the hot summer. The female tree produces huge amounts of berries. The birds nest and eat and poop purple all over the street and vehicles parked under them. The male trees produce huge pollen clusters in the Spring. The Fall leaf color is spectacular however.

The problem is the full grown tree is an accident waiting to happen. The wood is a very soft type that will easily snap or break off large (6 inch diameter or larger) limbs. They have been doing this for the past few years during very hot spells where the temperatures are in the mid to high 90's for several days. Most fall onto the sidewalks or street parki... read more


On Apr 29, 2011, JerryAssburger from Peyton, CO wrote:

As in a previous post, I lived in the Phoenix area, and this tree was becoming one of the "Best Kept Secrets" because hardly anyone carried or planted them a few years ago; mainly because Chinese Pistaches are a bit slow to develop into a shapely tree. Right before I left for Colorado, they were starting to catch on. A nice tree for the patient! I'm now attempting to grow one in Peyton, Colorado (out on The Plains) just to see how well it will do. It's pretty close to it's Northern Climate limit, but otherwise should do ok. Last fall (the 1st year) an early frost hardly allowed it to change colors before dumping its leaves. I'll report later this Summer on how its doing.


On Feb 16, 2011, Gardeningman from Kingman, KS (Zone 6b) wrote:

The Chinese Pistache is a great tree despite the bad rap it has gotten for being invasive. Only the female trees are invasive and that is only if there is a male tree near by to pollinate the flowers. The seeds in the unpolinated fruit, which remain red, will not germinate. There is also a new male cultivor 'Keith Davies' that doesn't produce any fruit.
As far as "mesiness" goes, I don't find the Chinese Pistache any messier than any other tree. Oak trees produce acorns, maple trees produce maple seeds, elm trees drop twigs every where, and all trees grow leaves My point is that all trees are "messy". If you don't like to rake up a "mess" then don't plant any trees. Personally, I would rather deal with tiny berries than acorns or maple seeds. At least you can mow over the be... read more


On Oct 13, 2010, aggiebot5 from College Station, TX wrote:

Really heat tolerant, great fall color, good shade, nice shape. You'd think it'd be a wonderful tree. However, it has escaped cultivation and is displacing native trees. It has the potential to be very, very serious. We don't need another exotic weed. Please don't plant this!


On Sep 23, 2010, susie70 from Albuquerque, NM wrote:

We have found what looks like sap leaking and crusting over from an area with a few cracks on one of the more mature limbs. The tree is 5 years old and healthy and leaves are dark green with little or no die off.
The spot in question is about 3 inches in diameter and is on a limb about 4 feet off the ground and the damaged area is near the trunk of the tree. I have asked the local horticultural extension agent about it and sent her a picture. From what I read from info on this tree, the spot could be a canker, for which there is not treatment or cure.
I may ignore it and see what happens as it is a nice shade tree on our patio.


On Dec 2, 2009, BillChilton from Granbury, TX wrote:

Planted 5 chinese pistache trees in march 2008, 2 in back yard abd 3 in the front. Both in back yard ( 1 male & 1 female) are great. All 3 in the front (2 female, 1 male) are terrible, loosing leaves early and not growing well. Both areas, front & rear, get the same watering and have the same type of soil. Any suggestions? If so email me at w\


On May 20, 2009, Agaveguy from San Antonio, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

This plant was highly promoted for landscapes over the past 30 years. It is now becoming a severely invasive, foreign pest in central Texas. It should be banned.


On Sep 4, 2007, clinsley from San Jose, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

This tree was planted by the city of San Jose next to the street a few years ago. Unlike GennyQ, we do have blooms and fruit. It's a nice shade tree, but it is messy and it seeds itself freely; we have dozens of seedlings all over the yard.


On Dec 27, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Chinese Pistache, Chinese Pistachio Pistacia chinensis is naturalized in Texas and other States and is considered an invasive plant in Texas.


On Dec 8, 2005, escambiaguy from Atmore, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:

There are alot of these trees planted in the town square of a neighboring town. I have not noticed any great fall color this year. My main concern with these trees is that they may become invasive like alot of other asian trees.


On May 9, 2005, doss from Stanford, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

First the positive. In warmer regions, I believe that this is the best plant for fall red color - the Ginko gets the yellow prize. It forms a dense shade canopy rather quickly, while still being a long lived tree. The leaves are very attractive and lacy looking. It is one of my very favorite trees to look at. It forms a beautiful crown with little pruning and is hardy enough to use in strip plantings beside roads. People come from other neighborhoods each fall to see a street that is planted with nothing else. It's pretty breathtaking.

The drawbacks are that it forms dense shade, if that's a problem. And the berries at the end of summer have a very pungent smell that I'm not fond of. The dropping berries can make this tree a little messy too - and when you step o... read more


On Jul 24, 2004, GennyQ from San Jose, CA wrote:

We have 2 of these trees in our front yard in San Jose, Ca. Since they were established (the first year), I haven't had to water them at all... they seem to have found their own water source. We're subject to long periods of drought, yet these trees have thrived and flourished. We've had absolutely no blooms or fruit (read: no mess) - they're 4-5 years old. Their color display in the Fall is GORGEOUS!


On Dec 29, 2003, agl from Dallas, TX wrote:

I planted 4 in my landscape in Dallas Tx. Each were 3", balled and burlapped and around 12 ft or so. After planting, I used drip bags to establish. After 2 years they are now around 25 feet apiece and I have experienced no watering problem or excessive fruit. My fall display depended upon how much watering was received as they approach dormancy. I cut in half the watering 4/6 weeks before then (typically late October here) and experienced Flaming Red showings.


On Sep 3, 2003, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

A fast growing, beautiful tree that provides shade in a short period of time, the Pistache is a recommended tree for southcentral Texas. My specimen was planted when it was about 6 feet tall. It had to be "topped" in order for lateral branches to emege where I wanted them to do so.

The information on the tag stated that it was nonbearing; however, it produces numerous small clusters of flowers which develop into clusters of very small pistachio nuts. These would be okay except they fall all over my patio area and into my container plantings and have to be constantly removed. New trees develop from these and are easily pulled up when small.

Being among oaks, the tree does not receive enough sunlight to enable it to exhibit the bright red foliage in the fall.... read more