chinese tallow tree removal

During summer, the Chinese tallow tree has berries and green leaves. But, during autumn, this is a beautiful tree that has red, brown and yellow leaves. This is one of the reasons why many people are planting this tree in their yards and in parks. However, this tree is a known invasive, and in this article we will talk about Chinese tallow tree removal.

Chinese tallow tree description

The Chinese tallow is known as the Triadica sebifera and Sapium sebiferum. As the name is saying, this tree is native to China. The tree was later introduced to Asian countries like Japan as well. Now, this is a tree that can be found all over the world, because of the hardness of the tree and easiness of growing in different environments.

Most people know the tree as Chinese tallow, but the plant is also known as Florida aspen, chicken tree, gray popcorn tree, and candleberry tree.

How to Identify the Chinese tallow tree

The Chinese tallow is a fast-growing tree that is growing to a normal height of about 20 feet. However, trees of up to 50 feet were reported all over the world. The leaves of the tree are known as large broad ovate leaves that are green during the summer, but red, brown and yellow during autumn. Making this a really colorful tree.

Triadica sebifera

During bloom time, the Chinese tallow will get greenish-yellow and white flowers that are both male and female. The flowers are spike-like and can grow up to 8 inch in length.

chinese tallow tree blossom

Chinese tallow tree blossom

The seeds or berries of the tree are known as three-lobed, three-valve capsules, that start green in color and turn darker over time. The end color will be a brown-black color when the seeds are ready.

chinese tallow fruit

Chinese tallow fruit

Habitat of the Chinese tallow tree

Chinese tallow can be found in East Asia, and now in other parts of Asia as well. However, it can be found in other countries as an invasive tree.

You will find the Chinese tallow tree in places like alongside the Atlantic, the coastline, parks, abandoned farmlands, open fields and sometimes in yards. Forests are also a great habitat for these trees to grow in without any limitations. Chinese tallow is basically growing where the seeds land.

chinese tallow US

Reports of Chinese tallow in the US

Is the tree poisonous?

This is the one thing that you need to know about, before you decide to just plant a Chinese tallow in your backyard. Yes, most parts of the tree are poisonous to humans and animals. The only animals that are eating the tree are sheep and goats. The berries or seeds are getting eaten by certain birds. The fruits contain a poisonous alkaloid.

But it is really poisonous to animals, especially pets. And, all parts of the tree are poisonous to humans. Even to the touch. Some people are getting an allergic reaction from the tree when they are working near it.

Medicinal value and other uses

Because the Chinese tallow tree is poisonous, people tend to think that there isn’t any medicine used from the tree. In the Asian countries, they are using the wax of the leaves for making soap and seed oil that can be used for many different things.

Research shows that it will be one of the possible alternatives to petroleum in the future. It is the third highest vegetable oil producing plant in the world.

In general, there aren’t many medicinal uses for the tree, because it is poisonous.

Why is the Chinese tallow tree invasive? 

There are a couple of reasons why this plant is found everywhere. First of all, the Chinese tallow tree is known as a rapid growing tree. Faster than other trees. It is also feeding off the roots of the native trees, ensuring that native trees are dying a lot faster.

The Chinese Tallow tree produces up to 100,000 seeds in a year. Chinese tallow tree seeds can spread easily through birds and the wind. The tree can also withstand through draught, something that many other plants can’t handle. This is because of the deep root system, that is capable of tapping water deep under the ground. While other native plants die in drought conditions, the Chinese tallow tree is able to stay alive.

How does Chinese tallow Spread?

Just like other trees that have berries and seeds, the Chinese tallow tree is spreading easily from one place to another.

Birds are one of the main causes for spreading the fruits of this noxious plant. Also, moving water takes part in the spreading of the Chinese tallow tree.

Chinese tallow tree Removal Methods

It doesn’t matter if you are a keeper at a park, or if you just have your yard to look after. You need to remove the tree as soon as possible. The longer the tree is growing, the deeper the roots are going to grow. And, the harder it is going to be to remove the tree completely.

Because the tree is poisonous, it will always be a threat to humans and animals. And, it might be a threat to your children playing in the yard.

When you want to remove a Chinese tallow tree successfully, it is essential that you remove it correctly.

You need to make sure that you are removing the whole root system when removing the Chinese tallow tree. The roots go very deep and can grow back a tree, rapidly if you don’t remove it completely. This is why it is important to remove the tree while it is still relatively small.

If the tree is already grown, removing it will be harder. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t remove it successfully. It only means that you might want to hire a professional to remove the tree for you. A professional knows how to remove an invasive tree, without the risk of spreading the seeds.

Manual removal of the Chinese tallow tree

It is hard, but manual removal of the Chinese tallow tree is possible. Winter is the best time to remove the Chinese tallow tree, when the blooming and seeding period is over.

Make use of a chainsaw. This can be done by yourself or with the help of professional tree cutters. Cut the tree very close to the ground. With just the stump left, you need to dig a hole that is large enough to expose all the roots. Removing it piece by piece. Make sure that you don’t leave any roots behind.

With just a piece of the root staying behind in the soil, it will grow back into a plant, and eventually into a full-grown tree again.

physical invasive plant removal

Physical invasive plant removal is labor-intensive

Chemical removal of the Chinese tallow tree

This is the best option to remove the Chinese tallow successfully, without any danger of the Chinese tallow tree growing back. However, you need to make sure that you use the correct chemicals.

Apply your herbicide to the stump. Make sure to use a spray bottle to apply the chemical.

Some proven chemicals that you can use to kill a Chinese tallow tree are 4-D, fosamine, hexazinone, imazapyr, metsulfuron, and triclopyr. Some of these herbicides might be harder to find in some countries, so you should ask a professional, which herbicide you can use in your country for the successful removal of the Chinese tallow.

Cultural Chinese tallow removal

Burning: This method has been tagged ineffective for many reasons:

  1. Fire can spread to other plants.
  2. Mature Chinese tallow trees develop thicker barks which protects the cambium layer from damage.
  3. Chinese tallow trees would recover from fire easily because of its ability to resprout quickly.
  4. Some of its seeds might fall to the ground and start to germinate overtime.
  5. This particular species is not a pyrogenic species that drive fire. So the fire will burn to a certain point and goes off on its own.

Nevertheless, If you do not mind all the above and feel you can kill the tree this way, you can go ahead. Although it is really not advisable.

Water Level Manipulation: After manually or chemically removing the Chinese tallow tree in aquatic regions or wetlands, increase the water level of the soil. This is often most easily accomplished during the transition from the dry to the wet season in early summer when water levels typically begin to increase.

Ponds and reservoirs can be built with steep sides to reduce a habitat’s likelihood to invasion.

What you should keep in mind

When you are removing the Chinese tallow tree completely, you need to make sure that you are looking for smaller trees in your yard as well. If you already have a tree in your yard, there is always a possibility of another one growing somewhere near it. Removing it while the tree is still young, is easier than to wait until the tree is with deep roots.

When you are using chemicals to remove the tree, you still need to cut it down to the ground. The lower you can cut the tree, the better it will be for using herbicides.

  • Do not try to cut down the tree in periods of rapid seed production which is late summer and early fall.
  • Ensure you take safety measures. Wear long sleeves, safety goggles, and long trousers when making use of herbicides.
  • Wash any container you used for mixing the herbicide.
  • Try not to breathe in herbicides.
  • When using herbicides, always follow the instructions on the package.
  • Ensure that your herbicides are not toxic to animals.


Chinese tallow is an invasive tree, that is overgrowing native plants. The tree is spreading a lot easier than most other plants. Making sure that the native plants aren’t getting any room to grow. It is important to make sure that you know everything about the Chinese tallow before you start planting this tree in your yard.

Removing the Chinese tallow tree isn’t that easy, because of the deep roots. However, if you are using the right herbicides, it will be a lot easier to ensure that the tree won’t grow back.