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tungoil tree

Habit Trees, to 10[–20] m.
Leaves

stipules 4–12 mm;

petiole 6–22 cm, with pair of round, sessile, cushion-shaped glands at apex;

blade broadly ovate or triangular-ovate, 10–25 × 8–20 cm, usually unlobed, sometimes shallowly 3-lobed, base cordate, truncate, or rounded, apex acuminate, both surfaces moderately to sparsely hairy, hairs appressed.

Inflorescences

6–15 × 6–20 cm, often branching from near base, branches to 15 cm.

Pedicels

1–2 cm.

Staminate flowers

sepals green to purplish, 10–12 mm;

petals white or pale pink with dark pink to red veins proximally, sometimes yellow basally, obovate, 25–35(–40) × 15–20 mm, narrowed at base;

nectary glands awl-shaped to strap-shaped;

stamens in outer whorl 8 mm, in inner whorl 13 mm, connate 1/2–2/3 length.

Pistillate flowers

sepals and petals as in staminate flowers;

ovary hairy.

Capsules

subglobose, 4–6 cm diam., smooth, glabrous or glabrate, short stipitate, apex apiculate.

Seeds

2.5–3 × 2 cm, surface warty, ridged.

2n

= 22 (China).

Vernicia fordii

Phenology Flowering Mar–Apr; fruiting Apr–Aug.
Habitat Wood and field margins, abandoned fields, roadsides, disturbed woods.
Elevation 0–150 m. [0–500 ft.]
Discussion

Vernicia fordii was cultivated for its seed oil in plantations along the Gulf coast from Florida to Texas from the 1920s to the 1960s. Although no longer commercially cultivated in the southeastern United States, it is naturalized there and is now listed as an invasive weed in Florida. All parts of the plant are poisonous; seeds have strong purgative properties and may cause poisoning if eaten.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Distribution
from FNA
AL; AR; FL; GA; LA; MS; NC; SC; TX; se Asia [Introduced in North America; introduced also in Australia]
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]
Parent taxa Euphorbiaceae > Vernicia
Synonyms Aleurites fordii
Name authority (Hemsley) Airy Shaw: Kew Bull. 20: 394. (1967)
Source Flora of North America vol. 12, p. 226.
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