Triadica sebifera is a tree native to eastern China (Chinese 乌桕, wū jiù) . It is commonly called Chinese tallow, Chinese tallowtree, Florida aspen, chicken tree, gray popcorn tree, or candleberry tree.
|Leaves and buds|
The seeds (as well as from those of Triadica cochinchinensis) are the sources of stillingia oil, a drying oil used in paints and varnishes. The fatty coat of the seeds, used for candle and soap making, is known as stillingia tallow; hence its common name. It is relevant to biodiesel production because it is the third most productive vegetable oil producing crop in the world, after algae and oil palm. The leaves are used as herbal medicine to treat boils. The plant sap and leaves are reputed to be toxic, and decaying leaves from the plant are toxic to other species of plants. The species is classified as a noxious invader in the southern U.S.
This species and T. cochinchinensis were formerly classified in the genus Stillingia, as Stillingia sebifera and Stillingia discolor (hence the name still used for the oil and tallow). The specific epithet sebifera is derived from Latin sebum (meaning "tallow") and fero (meaning "to bear"), thus "tallow-bearing". At some time before 1950, this tree was reclassified into the genus Sapium as Sapium sebiferum, and many papers about the oil still refer to the tree by this name. In 2002 or so it was reclassified again into the genus Triadica with its present name.