Photo: Steve Bender

Chinese pistache is a very good tree. Smart people plant them, which means so should you. Now is the time to do so.

Why should you you plant a Chinese pistache (pronounced pis-tash), instead of something dreadful like 'Bradford' pear, silver maple, weeping willow, or cottonwood? Let Grumpy recite just a few of this wonderful tree's good points.

+ Doesn’t get too big (grows 30-50 feet tall and wide with a rounded shape)

+ Grows in almost any well-drained soil

+ Is suited to most of the South (Zones 6-9)

+ Provides light, dappled shade that grass will grow in

+ Has no significant pests, so you don’t have to spray

+ Grows quickly, so you won’t die before you enjoy it

+ Tolerates heat and drought, so you won’t die at the end of a hose

+ Consistently develops spectacular fall colors of scarlet, orange, and yellow

Native to China (duh), Chinese pistache (Pistacia chinensis) is cousin the the pistachio tree (Pistacia vera) that gives us those muy delicioso nuts. Unfortunately, the nuts of Chinese pistache are delicioso only to wildlife. But while Chinese pistache won’t sate your physical hunger, it will satisfy your spiritual yearning for a beautiful tree in the yard. You can plant Chinese pistache by the street, in the middle of the lawn, or use it to shade a courtyard or patio.

Chinese pistache can be either male or female (just like many of the entertainers downtown). Only females bear fruit, which some people find a little messy. In this case, the solution is to plant a male selection called ‘Keith Davey.’ You can order it from Forest Farm. Plain old Chinese pistache is widely available at garden and home centers.

So if you did something dumb this weekend, like hanging a swing from the power lines, make up for it by doing something smart. Plant a Chinese pistache.