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Chinese Pistache

Are you looking for a medium-sized, landscape shade tree that will have amazing fall color of fiery yellows, oranges, and reds? Then, the Chinese pistache (Pistacia chinensis) is an excellent choice, and these trees are suitable for planting throughout South Carolina.

Chinese pistache trees are ablaze with color in November. Pistache will make the best fall color when grown in full sunlight.

Chinese pistache trees are ablaze with color in November.
Pistache will make the best fall color when grown in full sunlight.
Joey Williamson, ©2019 HGIC, Clemson Extension

The fall color on some Chinese Pistache may be a deep red.

The fall color on some Chinese Pistache may be a deep red.
Joey Williamson, ©2019 HGIC, Clemson Extension

The Chinese pistache has attractive, pinnately compound leaves similar to pecan trees. Once established, pistache makes an excellent, drought tolerant shade tree.

The Chinese pistache has attractive, pinnately compound leaves similar to pecan trees.
Once established, pistache makes an excellent, drought tolerant shade tree.
Joey Williamson, ©2019 HGIC, Clemson Extension

The pistache is cold hardy, pest and disease resistant, and a fast growing tree. With good management, they may add as much as 2 to 3 feet of growth each year. Chinese pistache grows to 25 to 40 feet tall and 25 to 30 feet wide at maturity, and once established, they are very drought tolerant. Many pistache trees line the main highway through Clemson, and they tolerate the confined planting areas quite well.

Pistache trees are dioecious, which means that there are separate male and female trees. If both male and female trees are planted, the female trees make an abundance of small fruit in large clusters. The colorful fruit start out green in late summer, turn to red, and finally to a robin’s egg blue in fall. The fruit hang down in large clusters with bright red stalks.

Birds love the colorful fruit of Chinese pistache, which ripen on female trees during October.

Birds love the colorful fruit of Chinese pistache, which ripen on female trees during October.
Joey Williamson, ©2019 HGIC, Clemson Extension

The fall is the best time to plant one or more of these magnificent trees in your landscape. For more information on proper planting procedures, please see HGIC 1001, Planting Trees Correctly. For more information about trees and their fall colors, please see HGIC 1029, Color Changes in Autumn Leaves.

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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