The Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis) is a medium to large sized ornamental tree, which as its name indicates, originates in Asia. At maturity, the height is between 40 to 50 feet, and the width is about 30 feet. The fine textured foliage stays a dark green color during the spring and summer. The fall then brings out one of this variety’s most attractive features as its leaves turn to brilliant oranges, reds, and even crimson. It is the first shade tree to receive the “Earth Kind” designation from the Texas Agricultural Extension Service, due to its disease and insect resistant qualities. It is easily adaptable to both urban and rural conditions, and does well in all parts of Texas except the Rio Grande Valley.
A close relative of the pistachio nut tree (Pistacia Vera), the Chinese Pistache is much hardier. In California the commercial pistachio growers use it as rootstock for their pistachio nut trees.
These trees often start out very gangly looking, but grow into attractive mature trees with full canopies. A young tree needs to be placed at least 15 feet from the house to give it room to grow. If they are well cared for, they can grow 2 to 3 feet a year. While this variety can be planted in either fall or spring, fall is recommended as the better time of the year for planting.