Chinese Pistache growth rate

mattmlAugust 9, 2007

I've seen a lot of messages about the growth rates of chinese pistache. When I bought ours several years ago the nursery-gal said to expect 2-4 feet a year and a tree that would be 30-35 feet tall/wide. After about six years, I'm only averaging 1-1.5 feet a year and this is hardly the large shade tree that I was hoping for.

Question - anyone have any experience with these tree in the SF Bay Area (San Jose/Almaden Valley neighborhood)? Any suggestions for increasing the growth rate?

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Not to make you feel terrible, but this tree is listed one of the exotic pest plants of greatest ecological concern in California. I think you should take it back to nursery gal and tell them you want a store credit. And yes it was known to be invasive 6 years ago too.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 8:24AM
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snasxs(7-8 VA)

Pistache comes as a male tree and female tree separately.

Most gardeners only want male tree for the female tree tends to be smaller and drop fruits(messy). This is not a pest tree because their reproduction is easily controlled. Just keep the male trees.

Recently, several California nurseries put a male strain with distinctly superior fall color into production by grafting. Keith Davies is such a pistache with the attributes you need for a wonderful garden tree. It is moderate fast. So, if you have this special male, it does not grow as fast.

This tree has gained a lot of popularity over the past several years and for good reason. Once established, it tolerates drought and diverse soil conditions (except for wet areas) and is one of the most colorful trees in autumn with brilliant hues of red-orange or yellow. The color change is slow and therefore provides nice color for a lengthy period. Younger trees are vase shaped but become rounder and spreading as they mature. In time, it provides decent shade.

As a side note, please disregard the native militia. He cannot tell the difference between Siberian (a true invasive) and American elm. If you are interested, check his posting records here and here

A mature male tree:

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 9:25AM
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The town I live in planted Chinese Pistache and Shumard oak on public lands a few years back. So far the Shumard oaks have actually grown faster and been more drought tolerant. I haven't seen all that great fall color on the Pistache either, but it could be my climate.

(I'm not implying you should grow Shumard oak in SF)

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 11:35AM
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snasx is incorrect. Chinese pistachio is on the California Invasive pest council's list.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 11:56AM
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snasxs(7-8 VA)


Cal-IPC compiles a broad list nominated by various parties. It contains a large number of plants from Monterey cypress to ochardgrass, foxglove.

Nevertheless, the Cal-IPC evaluates Chinese pistache as level C = limited invasiveness. Their naturalized distribution is rated D = None.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 12:44PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

The female chinese pistache is proving to be invasive in Texas as well. It's on Texas Super star list but more and more people are against the female trees because they produce small seeds that birds can eat and poop everywhere and they just come up.

I have no problem with chinese pistache as long as they are male tree.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 4:54PM
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snasxs(7-8 VA)

The CA-IPC scores for invasiveness:

A = Severe

B = Moderate

C= Limited

D = None

For example, in the list German ivy (Delairea odorate) is rated A.
Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila) which quirkyquerus cannot recognize is listed B.
Gum rockrose (Cistus ladanifer) is C.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 6:29PM
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jonlyd(z9 Tx (humid!))

I read online that this is the tree to which pistacia vera is grafted to produce edible fruits. Does anybody have experience with that?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2008 at 10:45AM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

Mine, here in Amarillo, Texas in zone 6b to 7 (depending on which survey you go by) have good to sometimes spectacular fall color).

But, unlike the B Pears thread, where I note the B pears aren't invasive here, the CP's do come up from seed in my yard. I've never let one grow to see if it would make it from a seedling around here, nor have I seen any in the wild, but, I would agree that is a concern you might want to take in to consideration regarding females. One out of my five is a female and I get alot of seedlings from it.

Mine were here when I moved in to this house in 2000. I'd call the growth here on the slow end of moderate. Mine are now mid-size trees. My guess is that they will make nice shade trees for you. But not big shade trees nor real fast.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2008 at 11:56AM
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The growth rate of a Chinese Pistache is just like any other tree. It all depends on three things: the species, location, and growing conditions. The growth rate of a Chinese pistache is moderate, not fast. I am sorry you were misinformed by the nursery gal. You can maximize the growth rate by watering the tree once a week during drought conditions and by giving the tree a 10-10-10 tree fertilizer once a year. It also helps to place a 3" thick layer of mulch around the tree, but keep the mulch a few inches away from the trunk so as not to promote pests and disease.
The Chinese Pistache is a wonderful tree if it is managed properly. The female tree's flowers only produce fertile seeds if there is a male tree close by to pollinate them. Unfortunately, the states of California and Texas didn't learn enough about this tree before they began to mass introduce it. So is the way of all invasive plant species...
Just an encouraging note, if this is encouraging. After about 20 years that Chinese Pistache tree you have will develop into a beautiful spreading shade tree and then you will be glad you planted it.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 2:16PM
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Growth rate is partly based on the species of tree and partly based on the soil and climate. In my area in SC Kansas with sandy loam soil, the Chinese Pistache is averaging 2-3 feet per year. It does turn combinations of red, orange and yellow. However, last summer and fall was hot a dry and the pistache trees all turned brown. The year before that they were all red and orange. I have noticed the same type of things with red maples around here too.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 5:57PM
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Well, I can confirm that there is at least one of these, in Central Texas, that is extremely invasive. The exact location is my neighbor's side yard. Pistache seedlings, up to a foot tall, are springing up all over the place, up to a hundred feet away from the tree. It's about 25' tall, and almost as wide. One Texas expert says they will get 40 to 50' tall. I don't see another one of these in the immediate area. The roots of my neighbor's tree have already reached my foundation. I just may drill some holes in them, and pour something in.

Speaking of Bradfords, I have one, now a good 30' tall, that has never created a single volunteer. I think there are several distinct varieties of this tree, all of which are thrown into the catch-all "Bradford."

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 8:52AM
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I killed several very large Trees of Heaven in the backyard of the house I purchased. I drilled 1" holes about 6" apart and 6" from the ground all around the base of the trees' trunks and squirted one tbs of Tordon RTU into each hole immediately after I drilled it. It took two applications, but the trees were all dead in about 3-4 months. Just tell your neighbor that the wood peckers have been extra aggresive this year. :-) lol

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 3:15PM
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