Chinese tallow

Triadica sebifera (Sapium sebiferum)


Photo credit: ©Dennis Teague
Triadica sebifera (Sapium sebiferum)
  • Chinese tallow is a deciduous tree, growing to 16m tall. It has dark green bark with vertical stripes, and often turns pale brown when older. Its alternating leaves are papery and taper to a point.
  • It has milky sap, which may be a skin irritant in humans.
  • It has small, yellow flowers; the pollen may cause hay fever or allergic reactions to people sensitive to tree pollen. It forms small brown fruit when ripe; the leaves and the unripe fruits may be poisonous to cattle.

Origin and Worldwide Distribution:
  • It is native to China, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam.
  • It has been introduced to and is invasive in the United States of America, Australia, France, and Zambia.

Potential or Known Impacts:
  • This species can grow in stands, displacing native vegetation, and limiting food for native herbivores
  • It can cause ramifications for habitat successions, changing many different habitats to monoculture woodland.

How could it get here?
  • Could be introduced accidentally by birds
  • Possible introduction as an ornamental plant and a crop plant
  • Introduced to the United States for soap and vegetable tallow production

Is it found in Northern Ireland?
  • It is not found in Northern Ireland.

Methods for Prevention:
  • EU-level action includes a ban on sales and any planting or keeping, including in aquaria, as well as rapid eradication of any new populations to avoid the excessively high costs associated with its management later on.
  • Report all sightings.

You can help by reporting any sightings: @ the Centre for Environmental Data & Recording (CEDaR) - Or via the iRecord App.
Current Legislative Position (Listed on 14 August 2019)
  • This species must not intentionally be brought into the Union; kept; bred; transported to, from or within the United Kingdom, unless for the transportation to facilities in the context of eradication; placed on the market; used or exchanged; permitted to reproduce, grown or cultivated; or released into the environment.
For further queries, you can contact the Invasive Non Native Species (INNS) Team in the Northern Ireland Environment Agency on 028 9056 9558 or Email:
Invasive Species Northern Ireland

Invasive Species Northern Ireland