Triadica sebifera - (L.) Small
Chinese Tallowtree
Other English Common Names: Chinese Tallow
Other Common Names: Chinese tallow
Synonym(s): Sapium sebiferum (L.) Roxb.
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Triadica sebifera (L.) Small (TSN 522777)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.147870
Element Code: PDEUP17060
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Spurge Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Euphorbiales Euphorbiaceae Triadica
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Sapium sebiferum
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: GNR
Global Status Last Changed: 22Mar1994
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (SNA), Arkansas (SNA), Florida (SNA), Georgia (SNR), Kentucky (SNA), Louisiana (SNA), North Carolina (SNA), South Carolina (SNA), Texas (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States ALexotic, ARexotic, FLexotic, GA, KYexotic, LAexotic, NCexotic, SCexotic, TXexotic

Range Map
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Ecology & Life History Not yet assessed
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Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
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Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: High
Rounded I-Rank: High
I-Rank Reasons Summary: Aggressive weed tree of the southeastern U.S. and also spreading in California. Capable of transforming important natural communities ranging from coastal prairies, marshes, and bottomland forests, into monospecific Chinese tallow forests. Alters soil chemistry such that the species may be self-perpetuating once established.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: High
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: Medium
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: High/Medium
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: High/Medium
I-Rank Review Date: 27Feb2004
Evaluator: Maybury, K.
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: China and Japan

Download "An Invasive Species Assessment Protocol: Evaluating Non-Native Plants for their Impact on Biodiversity". (PDF, 1.03MB)
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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES
Comments: This species is a non-native that is established outside of cultivation (Kartesz 1999).

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes
Comments: Occurs in woodlands as well as marshes and wet prairies that are habitat for bird species (LSU, not dated). Invades bottomland forests, coastal prairies and riparian areas and capable of spreading into undisturbed areas (Remaley, not dated).

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: High

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:Moderate significance
Comments: Can alter soil nutrients/chemistry because of the high tannin content of its leaves (Bogler 2000, TNC 2002). Specifically, large amounts of autumn leaf litter and rapid leaf decomposition may alter nutrient release cycles and change concentrations of nitrate, phosphorus and other nutrients (Cameron and Spencer 1989 and Harcombe et al. 1993, as cited in Bruce et al. 1995, Conway et al. 2002). Such changes are presumably not irreversible.

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:High significance
Comments: Can dramatically transform graminoid- and forb-dominated marshes and coastal prairies into forested communities (Bruce et al. 1995, 1997; LSU, not dated).

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:High significance
Comments: Replaces native communities with virtually monospecific stands (Bruce et al. 1995, Bogler 2000).

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Low significance
Comments: Long suspected of producing allelopathic compounds that inhibit germination of other species. However, recent work by Conway et al. (2002) indicates that, rather than specifically inhibiting the establishment of other species, Chinese tallow promotes its own growth and survival through changes in soil nutrient availability or release cycles.

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:High significance
Comments: Replaces chenier woodlands as well as marshes and wet prairies that are habitat for bird species (LSU, not dated). Invades bottomland forests, coastal prairies and riparian areas and capable of spreading into undisturbed areas (Remaley, not dated).

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: Medium

6. Current Range Size in Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: North Carolina to central Florida and west to east Texas (Kartesz 1999, Bogler 2000, TNC 2002) and recently discovered in riparian areas in a few areas of central California (TNC 2002).

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:Moderate significance
Comments: Low-lying coastal areas and streams and also uplands near towns (i.e., with disturbance?) (Bruce et al. 1995; LSU, not dated).

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:Low significance
Comments: 8 - 12 U.S. ecoregions.

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Wide tolerances for soil salinity, pH, soil moisture (Bogler 2000; LSU, not dated). Colonizes open sites and closed-canopy forests; shade tolerant (Remaley, not dated; LSU, not dated).

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: High/Medium

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Recently detected in California and described as "spreading" there by Bogler (2000).

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:Low significance
Comments: Most gardening sources indicate that this tree is only hardy to USDA zone 8 so most of its potential range in the southeastern U.S. has been invaded. In California and the Pacific Northwest, however, much potential habitat would seem to exist. Staples et al. (2000, as cited in PIER, not dated) indicates that this species, now in cultivation in Hawaii, is potentially invasive there as well.

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:High significance
Comments: Still widely sold as an ornamental. (Seeds are also bird and water dispersed.)

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Possibly spreading in California; probably only slowly expanding in some areas of the southeast.

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Does not require disturbance; invades undisturbed as well as disturbed areas (Remaley, not dated). Can invade closed-canopy forests (LSU, not dated).

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: Possibly naturalized on Taiwan (PIER, not dated).

16. Reproductive Characteristics:High significance
Comments: Based on Remaley (not dated): Reaches sexual maturity quickly; each tree may produce 100,000 seeds annually; resprouts after cutting.

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: High/Medium

17. General Management Difficulty:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Major restoration and eradication efforts needed once trees are established (Bogler 2000).

18. Minimum Time Commitment:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Once this species has become well-established, large-scale restoration is difficult (Bolger 2000). Hand-pulling of seedlings will need to be ongoing even after trees are cut and herbicide applied to the cut stumps. Seed viability of 50% at one year has been demonstrated (Bolger 2000) and trees can fruit when only three years old; adequate control could presumably require vigilance over a long period of time.

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Low significance
Comments: Bark and stump applications of herbicide are the most effective method of control (Bogler 2000); effects should be selective.

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:High significance
Comments: Still widely used as an ornamental; seeds are easily dispersed and will reinvade.
Authors/Contributors
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Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Bogler, D. J. 2000 (edited in 2000). Element stewardship abstract for Sapium sebiferum. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA.

  • Bruce, K. A., G. N. Cameron, and P. A. Harcombe. 1995. Initiation of a new woodland type on the Texas coastal prairie by the Chinese tallow tree (Sapium sebiferum (L.) Roxb.) Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 122: 215-225.

  • Cameron, G. N. and S. R. Spencer. 1989. Rapid leaf decay and nutrient release in Chinese tallow forest. Oecologia 80: 222-228.

  • Conway, W. C., L. M. Smith, and J. F. Bergan. 2002. Potential allelopathis interference by the exotic Chinese tallow tree (Sapium sebiferum). American Midland Naturalist 148: 43-53.

  • Harcombe, P. A., G. N. Cameron, and E. G. Glumac. 1993. Above-ground net primary productivity in adjacent grassland and woodland on the coastal prairie of Texas, U.S.A. Journal of Vegetation Science 4: 521-530.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • LSU (Louisiana State University). Not dated. Louisiana invasive plants: Triadica sebifera (L.) Small. Available online at: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/invasive/chinesetallow.asp. Accessed 2004.

  • Little, E.L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agriculture Handbook No. 541. U.S. Forest Service, Washington, D.C. 375 pp.

  • Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER). No date. Triadica sebifera. Available at: http://www.hear.org/pier/species/triadica_sebifera.htm. Accessed 2004.

  • Remaley, T. No Date. Southeast exotic pest plant council invasive plant manual. Available: http://www.se-eppc.org/manual/. (Accessed 2004).

  • Staples, G. W., D. Herbst, and C. T. Imada. 2000. Survey of invasive or potentially invasive cultivated plants on Hawai'i. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 65: 21.

  • TNC (The Nature Conservancy). 2002. Weed Alert! Available online at: http://tncweeds.ucdavis.edu/alert/alrtsapi.html. Accessed 2004.

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