Sapium sebiferum (Triadica sebifera). CHINESE TALLOW TREE. China
EUPHORBIACEAE (Spurge family)

A very attractive deciduous tree with good red fall color. The tiny yellow/green monoecious exit disclaimer small icon flowers are arranged in 4 to 10 inch-long spikes that cover the tree in midsummer in a handsome but restrained display. Leaves are about 2 inches long resembling poplar leaves plus a long tapered point; they dangle on long stalks in the same way. At the point of attachment of leaf to stalk two raised glands may be seen and there are two small stipules and a bud at the other end of the stalk. The seed capsules have a thin, green skin that can be scraped off with a fingernail to reveal a pale green nut with six fine ridges on its surface and three white, 1/4-inch seeds inside. Tallow trees are widely grown in the tropics, where their seed yields vegetable tallow used for candles, soap, and oil. Mysteriously, campus seed capsules have

Two mature specimens are at the eastern dead-end of Esplanada Way; there are 17 on the west and 20 on the east side of Kimball Hall, Escondido Road. A younger tree at the entrance to Ginzton Laboratory on Via Palou is strikingly beautiful in the fall. Others grow in the courtyard behind the northwest corner of the Outer Quad.

Illustrations (links open new windows): Silhouettes from Trees of Stanford & its Environs


Name derivation, genus | species

Related material: Canopy Trees for Palo Alto Tree Library; Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, University of Florida: Chinese tallow; NewCROP, Center for New Crops & Plant Products: Sapium sebiferum (L.) Roxb.

Botanical name index | Common name index | Family home