Two features of the pistachio tree (Pistacia chinensis) that make it a good choice as a landscaping tree are its ability to generate color late in the fall and its ability to grow in urban conditions. Landscapers could use this tree more often, according to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Pistachio trees, also known as Chinese pistache, are not the source of pistachio nuts, but they do generate an inedible fruit.
Geography and Growing Conditions
Pistachio trees are native species in Asian locales including China, Taiwan and the Philippines. In the United States, the tree survives between U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 9. The tree does best placed where it receives full sun, but it will grow in light shade. Pistachio trees withstand hot weather, periods of drought and poor-quality soils. Plant your pistachio seedling from September through November for best results, advises the Texas Agrilife Extension Service. Apply light applications of fertilizer in the spring at regular intervals.
Size and Use
The pistachio features an oval crown, with an average height between 30 to 35 feet. Widths range between 20 and 30 feet. The pistachio trees has a suitable size to serve as a shade tree or a street tree, lining property borders along roadways or driveways. Landscapers use pistachio trees around gardens and as a patio tree.
The compound foliage on the pistachio tree is dark green, but fall colors range from yellow and orange to red. The leaves change color as late as November in some of the cooler regions that support this species; fall color is not nearly as reliable in warmer climates. The leaves feature a main stem up to 10 inches in length. On this axis, between 10 and 12 lance-shaped leaflets grow. They are as long as 4 inches and exude a fragrant aroma when you crush them.
More Pistachio Features
A pistachio tree is either female or male, with the female specimens producing a round, reddish fruit. The red fruits are about ¼-inch wide and they turn blue as they ripen. Wildlife normally leaves the fruit alone, so it remains on the twigs, adding ornamental appeal to the tree. Pistachio trees flower during April. The bark is brownish-gray, but the outer layers peel away, showing an inner layer that's a shade of salmon pink.
The species of pistachio tree that generates the famous pistachio nuts is Pistacia vera. This is a tree of Middle Eastern origin and a very separate type from Pistache chinensis. Its fruits are much larger than those of Pistache chinensis, which resemble peppercorns. The leaves of Pistache vera are compound as well, but there are only three leaflets on each central axis.
Often on their own, pistachio trees develop a good, solid shape. However, in some instances, the tree requires pruning so that its branches have good spacing. Those saplings featuring few branches, or many branches radiating from a small area, need pruning. Prune the top of the sapling to force branches to emerge. After the tree gains age and length, do so again, about 18 to 24 inches above the original pruning site. Repeat as necessary to give your pistachio tree good spacing between its limbs.