Aleurites fordii
Common Name: tung-oil tree 
Type: Tree
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Native Range: Asia
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 15.00 to 25.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Bloom Time: February to March
Bloom Description: Reddish-white
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Shade Tree, Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy
Fruit: Showy


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 8-10 where it grows best in slightly acidic, medium moisture, well-drained loams in full sun. Tolerates some light shade.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Aleurites fordii, commonly called tung oil tree or China wood oil tree, is a small, milky-juiced, monoecious, deciduous tree with a rounded crown that is native to moist forested areas and rainforest in subtropical China. This tree has been commercially grown in Florida for tung oil which is produced from the seeds for a variety of purposes including usage in paints, varnishes and wood finishes. Tung oil production has slowed considerably today as synthetic resins take the place of this oil, resulting in the abandonment of many of the Florida groves. In areas where it is winter hardy, this tree has excellent ornamental features, providing early spring flowers before the foliage, large leaves and often good summer shade. It typically grows to 15-25’ tall and 10-15’ wide, though some trees may occasionally grow to 40’ tall. Pointed, ovate-cordate, light green leaves (to 10” long) on long stalks with red glands at the top of each petiole. Leaves are unlobed or 3-5 lobed. Large terminal clusters (lax cymes) of 5-7 petaled, catalpa-like, reddish-white flowers (each to 1”) appear in spring. Female flowers are followed by rounded, dark green fruits (2-3” diameter), with each fruit typically containing 4-5 seeds. Fruits ripen to brown in fall. Soot from burned tung oil is a main ingredient (lampblack) in India ink.

Genus name comes from the Greek word aleuron meaning floury in reference to the white flour-like dusting present on juvenile leaves.


No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to dieback and canker. All parts of the tree are toxic to humans if ingested, and in particular the seeds.


Where winter hardy, they may be grown in the landscape as specimens or small shade trees. Spring flowers are ornamentally attractive.