Scientific: Pistacia chinensis
Common: Chinese pistache
Family: Anacardiaceae
Origin: Midwestern China, Philippines

Pronounciation: Pis-TA-cee-a chi-NEN-sis

Hardiness zones
Sunset
4-11, 12-15, 18-23
USDA 7-11

Landscape Use: Mesic shade tree for large residential and commercial landscapes, sometimes used as a lawn tree, fall color.

Form & Character: Umbrella top, coarse branch architecture, canopy outline is oval to rounded, mesic, wonderful especially in the fall.

Growth Habit: Woody, deciduous, perennial tree, moderately slow when young to moderate with age eventually reaching 30 to 35 feet high with a canopy spread 25 to 35 feet; under good conditions might grow to 50 feet in height with a 70 feet spread.

Foliage/texture: Alternate, compound even pinnate, about 10 inches long, 10 to 12 pairs of leaflets, each leaflet 2 to 4 inches long, 3/4 inch wide, terminal leaflets the shortest, lanceolate, short-stalked, acute or acuminate, mucronate to cuspidate, oblique, entire, glabrous at maturity, lustrous dark green; petiole is 1 to 4 inches long, fall and early winter foliage turns scarlet to sometimes yellow, foliage reappears in April; medium coarse texture.

Flowers & fruits: Dioecious, flowers in winter when deciduous, male flowers in compound 2 to 3 panicles, females flowers in 7 to 9 panicles, both greenish not showy; fruit on female tree a globose drupe turns bright red then blue in winter and early spring, loved by birds.

Seasonal color: Yellow to scarlet red late fall color of leaves, one of most dependable in urban desert cities.

Temperature: Tolerant

Light: Full sun

Soil: Well drained deep fertile soils are best, avoid sites with shallow soils and caliche.

Watering: Apply regular, deep supplemental water.

Pruning: Elevate canopy base to desired height.

Propagation: Semi-soft wood cuttings

Disease and pests: Verticillium wilt is rare, phytophthora root rot is not. Resistant to chestnut blight.

Additional comments: Arguably Chinese pistache has the finest fall color of any tree taxon in Phoenix. It typically shows fall leaf color in December with new leaves emerging in late March to early April. It also gives a rather dense shade. In summary, I think Chinese pistache is a wonderful broad-canopied deciduous tree with exquisite trunk bark characteristics and resounding fall color.

The are several newer cultivars and hybrids with subtle unique accent features. P. chinensis 'Sarah's Radiance', a wonderful shade tree with vibrant fall color, is a grafted selection whose rootstock is 'Red Push' pistache, a hybrid selection between P. atlantica and P. integerrima. 'Sarah's Radiance' is available locally at Mountain States Wholesale Nursery. P. atlantica and P. lenticus (small, evergreen dense canopy) are also much deserving of landscape use in the Phoenix area.