Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Green Roof Ethnobotany - Chinese Tallow, Sapium sebiferum (Triadica sebifera)

Chinese Tallow tree, also known as Popcorn Tree (due to seeds that resemble popped Jiffy Popcorn), Sapium sebiferum (Triadica sebifera), is one of the most persistent invasive species affecting green roofs in Florida and across the southeastern US.

Chinese Tallow Green Roof Exotic Plant
Benjamin Franklin introduced Chinese Tallow to the US East Coast.

With beautiful fall color, Chinese Tallow was originally brought from Asia.  The tree has rapidly spread across the Gulf Coast region.  According to Wikipedia, 25% of all trees in Houston are Chinese Tallow.

Chinese Tallow is the third most important vegetable oil crop, ranking only behind algae and palm oil.

Bees love the plant and the tree produces larges amounts of nectar.  Beekeepers seek out groves of Chinese Tallow for their colonies.

Chinese Tallow is listed as a Class 1 Invasive plant in Florida by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FLEPPC).

Birds love the seeds of this plant and we find Chinese Tallow plants sprouting across green roofs each spring.

Understanding the types of local plants is key to maintaining a successful green roof long term.

As always, email your comments or questions!

Happy Green Roofing!


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