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PlantFiles: Tung-Oil Tree, China Wood Oil Plant, Tung Nut
Vernicia fordii

Family: Euphorbiaceae (yoo-for-bee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Vernicia (ver-NIK-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: fordii (FOR-dee-eye) (Info)

Synonym:Aleurites fordii

9 members have or want this plant for trade.


30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring


Other details:
Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
Unknown - Tell us

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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By Andrew60
Thumbnail #1 of Vernicia fordii by Andrew60

By arcadon
Thumbnail #2 of Vernicia fordii by arcadon

By pieohmy
Thumbnail #3 of Vernicia fordii by pieohmy

By pieohmy
Thumbnail #4 of Vernicia fordii by pieohmy

Thumbnail #5 of Vernicia fordii by BUFFY690

By DebinSC
Thumbnail #6 of Vernicia fordii by DebinSC

By DebinSC
Thumbnail #7 of Vernicia fordii by DebinSC

There are a total of 9 photos.
Click here to view them all!


11 positives
5 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive pattiejn On Dec 19, 2014, pattiejn from Eufaula, AL wrote:

We have a tree in our yard that I dearly love. It is slow-growing and spreads rather than growing straight up. Mine is more like a bush than a tree. My husband says it has been here around 30 years. He dug up a small tree next to a bigger tree and transplanted it. We have never done anything to the tree, although it needs a little pruning.
The leaves are large, almost like fig leaves. The "fruit" is extremely hard, kids have been known to use them for ammunition. It dries after awhile and becomes brittle. Because of this, I would recommend not planting too close to the house.
The payoff is the beautiful flowers that cover the plant in the spring. They look like a cross between dogwood and cherry blossoms. In the winter, the tree is bare but makes a good Christmas decoration when covered in lights!

Positive thequietearth On Aug 29, 2014, thequietearth from Hemby Bridge, NC wrote:

I wanted to grow this tree in my borderline zone 7b-8 garden in the Peidmont of NC. I planted it in full sun in 2012 as a one gallon and it was about a foot tall with 3 or 4 leaves. It made it through the 2012-13 winter with minor bud burn and grew slowly in 13. Last winter 2013-14 it made it through a very wet and cold season. One night it dropped down to 5 degrees which is very unusual in my area. It did have minor bud burn but flushed back out in spring 14. As of now 8/14 it has grown with a vengence !
It's now 7 ft and full of nearly foot long leaves. No blooms yet but looking forward to them. I was skeptical it would even make it in my garden but it has surprised me. I have another seedling that I thought I had lost so I cut it back to the ground and a few weeks later it's coming back too. It actually had a few variegated leaves on it so hopefully it's stable.

Positive barnybowles On Jun 26, 2014, barnybowles from Charlotte, NC wrote:

I have grown this tree for 3 years now. It survived 5 degrees last winter with minor tip burn and has flushed back out.It is now about 5 feet tall from the original seedling. It has not flowered yet but i look forward to it. It seems to like fertilizing both slow release and foliar feeding.

Positive annhelen On May 13, 2014, annhelen from Townsend, GA wrote:

In the Florida panhandle, there are still remain of Tung Tree plantations, and when I first saw them in Spring, I wondered what those beautiful trees were in the "orchards". For those who live amid landscaped lawns, the nuts may be offensive, but a good choice for those in rural deep south landscapes. Can be planted in a sunny spot in woodland.

Positive Pam44 On Apr 18, 2014, Pam44 from Lucedale, MS wrote:

My Pawpaw was a Tung Oil farmer back in the 70s..he's long gone but we have bought his old place & found many Tung Oil trees still growing in the woods next to it. I actually transplant & sell the trees in my nursery ..we live in Lucedale, MS..

Positive goodgardening On Oct 18, 2012, goodgardening from Charleston, SC wrote:

See it all over Charleston, SC as an unstorey tree. Called it the pink snow tree until I learned the true name. Reseeds but seedlings easily pulled up.

Positive nancyanne On Mar 17, 2012, nancyanne from Lafayette, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Positive with a few caveats: this plant can be horrifically messy if planted where it can drop seeds on a driveway or patio. The seeds are very oily, and leave a dark, greasy stain where they fall.
No option when I tried to add 'propagation' information to the database, but the seeds sprout readily all around a mature tree.
Very beautiful flowers.

Neutral redgreen On Mar 17, 2011, redgreen from Harrison, OH wrote:

Walking on a trail on the south facing bluffs above Madison, Indiana(zone 7, zip 47250) on the Ohio River this past November (2010) I came across these big leaves that weren't obviously Catalpa and the trunks of the trees supported that observation. I grew up in Southern Indiana and have familiarity with almost all the common tree species in the area, especially those with distinctively large leaves. I found empty hulls on the ground under some of the trees and brought them home to try a identify this mystery tree. Tung oil has been the only fit based on my visual research but the growth zone issue seems to be the only obstacle to repudiate that prognosis. My parents, aunts and uncles having grown up in that area had no knowledge of such trees growing in IN or KY and none of those state's official plant info websites have any mention of them. Madison's south facing bluffs get significant sun exposure and that area and across the river in Kentucky are a substantial pocket of zone 7. Since northern AL, MS, and GA are zone 7, I have question whether tung oil tree's have gotten adapted to colder climes. Anybody have any insight?

February 1, 2012
Back this past fall I found out from an article in an Indiana agricultural related monthly paper that what I have found is the Empress Tree (also known as Paulownia tomentosa, Princess Tree or Foxglove Tree). This was from a Purdue ag extension agent. gives a nice quick description of the particulars of this tree.

Positive florida254 On Feb 24, 2011, florida254 from Gainesville, FL wrote:

I have this tree growing in woods about 20 feet from the back of my house. They only grow in the lower half I think because it is more moist there. It blooms around April and when it is blooming it is beautiful. The tree is probably 40 ft tall. The leaves are hugh about the size of a plate. It took me over a year to find out what it was and then after I found that out I found that the developement I live in used to be a Tung-Oil plantation. I have some snapshots if anyone is interested. I guess I can't show them here.

Neutral BUFFY690 On Jan 23, 2011, BUFFY690 from Prosperity, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:

I came across this tree at my grandmother's hairdresser, (Prosperity, South Carolina) The tree was forming its pods and I loved the large heart shaped leaves. I did go back and get pods, I am germinating now in hopes that maybe my kids can plant for Arbor day. I am very excited to have this tree in my garden now that I see what it looks like in bloom...yea me.
7-22-2011, trees were planted and now they have dissappeared, either some critter has pulled them out of the ground and took them off, or someone has stolen them...They are gone, guess I have to work with my last seed pod and try again.

Neutral Nick1 On May 7, 2009, Nick1 from Plainfield, NJ (Zone 6b) wrote:

I will be getting a Tung Oil Tree in trade. Does anyone know how it will do in Zone 6B (Central NJ). If it's pushing it to plant outside here, how about in a pot in a conservatory?

Positive marlaboone On Apr 7, 2008, marlaboone from Dallas, TX wrote:

We are just back from Charleston, and YES, there is ONE and only one, of these trees there. Not one person could I find that could recognize the gorgeous little blosson I carried all over town trying to get it identified. After circling the block MANY times hoping to spot the owner, he was finally outside and said it had been there 50 yrs, and he'd never seen another in one. The tree was absolutely loaded with it's gorgeous teeny blosooms (like a wee miniature TINY hybiscus); the striations down the center are coral-colored, and they LITTERED the drive-way beneath the tree beside the tree being just covered. Gorgeous, is all I can say. Too bad it is poisonous, but you wouldn't be likely to put any part in your mouth. Gorgeous in bloom and fairly tall. (he called it 'tongue oil' tree)

Positive pieohmy On Nov 25, 2007, pieohmy from Independence, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

These grow very well here and grow quite large. I have two smaller trees on my property that are about 15 feet tall. There is one that grows in the woods near our house that is at least 30 feet. They are not evergreen here. The leaves turn yellow in the fall and drop. They are great for using in the yard since they are so large. The flowers are beautiful in the spring. These have survived snow once in the last 5 years and freezing temps several times each winter.

Tung-oil trees do border on invasive for us. I pull at least 30 a year, but they are easy enough to spot because of the large leaves. The roots do not run deep so they are easy to pull up.

The growing habit of the smaller trees are interesting because there is just one long straight trunk with a burst of limbs out the top of it. I harvest the 6 foot ones for use in my vegetable garden each year.

Positive patp On Oct 6, 2007, patp from Summerville, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

I saw this tree growing in the yard of one of Charleston, SC historic homes, Zone 8. It was bearing seed at the time.

Neutral candysav On Oct 5, 2007, candysav from Columbia, MO (Zone 5b) wrote:

Neutral salvia_lover On Jan 10, 2005, salvia_lover from Modi'in
Israel wrote:

this plant requires a minimum temperature of 45F


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

Anniston, Alabama
Eufaula, Alabama
Gainesville, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Savannah, Georgia
Townsend, Georgia
Independence, Louisiana
Jena, Louisiana
Lafayette, Louisiana
Gautier, Mississippi
Lucedale, Mississippi
Indian Trail, North Carolina (2 reports)
Wilmington, North Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
Florence, South Carolina
Georgetown, South Carolina
Mc Clellanville, South Carolina
Prosperity, South Carolina
Willis, Texas

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