En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
3 ratings

Saturday - May 30, 2009

From: San Jose, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Problems with non-native Chinese pistache tree in San Jose CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have a Chinese Pistache tree that is between 25 and 30 years-old. Over the past couple years, we have observed more and more branches dying. They turn black, and remain leafless in the spring, when new growth appears on the rest of the tree. It is a sidewalk tree in a square of about 4 feet. Also, we've noticed two characteristics on the trunk. The first is random spots of fuzzy yellow matter. Another is that on the main trunk, there appears to be a black blob. One day, I did notice a black beetle run across the trunk. Is this poor tree a victim of a pest or a fungus? Is there hope? We would like to save the tree without the service of an expensive arborist.

ANSWER:

Pistacia chinense is native to China, Taiwan and the Philippines, and therefore out of our range of expertise.  The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the care and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. Here is a website from the USDA Forest Service which might give you some information you need. 

However, while we have your attention, may we give you a couple of reasons why we would be happy if you replaced your tree with something native? First, read this Texas Invasives.org Plant Detail Page on Pistacia chinense. Then, check out Dave's Garden Forum on Chinese Pistache. There are two very negative opinions about the tree, one from Texas and one from San Jose, CA.

Since there are apparently a lot of this tree in San Jose, we suggest you go to the University of California Cooperative Extension office for Santa Clara County, CA. They should be able to help you with the diagnosis and treatment of the tree's problems. 

 

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Non-native banana plants dying back in Rocklin CA
March 15, 2010 - I bought a home last July in Rocklin, CA that had several banana plants growing in the yard. They died back during the winter frost. We pruned them back to the ground and placed mulch over the top. ...
view the full question and answer

Planting iris rhizomes in Wisconsin
October 10, 2008 - I live in central WI and was given some iris bulbs (think they are called Rhizomes) and have no idea how to go about planting them. I am very new to planting so step by step instructions with good de...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Bird of Paradise plant (Strelitzia reginae)
November 30, 2008 - I have two Bird of Paradise plants on my lanai (Marion County, FL) and they are both in large pots. Nobody but me seems to like them at my house and I have been asked if I could trim all the leaves o...
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock for non-native Plumbago auriculata
May 19, 2008 - I planted some full plumbago plants that were in containers, in a partially shaded area, they had beautiful flowers when I purchased them, but have since lost them all and the plant is looking very wi...
view the full question and answer

Care of non-native, hybrid petunias
August 31, 2004 - I have a beautiful Petunia Tiny Tunia Violet plant which has been flowering nicely (in sun and shade environment). Suddenly, a few days ago, it began to look like it's dying--stalks all dried out. Is...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center