Chicken Tree
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Chicken Tree
ntroduced Photo: Gurcharan Singh
Common name: Chicken Tree, Chinese tallow tree, Florida aspen, Gray Popcorn Tree • Kannada: ಮೋಂಬತ್ತಿಮರ Mombatti mara
Botanical name: Triadica sebifera    Family: Euphorbiaceae (Castor family)
Synonyms: Sapium sebiferum, Seborium chinense, Croton sebiferum

Chicken Tree is a tree in the spurge family that typically reaches a maximum height of 15 m. The simple, deciduous leaves are alternate, broad rhombic to ovate in shape and have smooth edges, heart shaped and sometimes with an extended tail often resembling the Peepal tree. The leaves are bright green in color and slightly paler underneath. The tree is monoecious, producing male and female flowers on the same plant. At bloom it produces clusters of greenish-yellow and white flowers. The flowers occur in spike-like inflorescences up to 20 cm long, at abranch ends. Light green in color, these flowers are very conspicuous in the spring. Each female flower is solitary and has a three-lobed ovary, three styles, and no petals. They are located on short branches at the base of the spike. The male flowers occur in clusters at the upper nodes of the inflorescence. Fruits are three-lobed, three-valved capsules. As the capsules mature, their color changes from green to a brown-black. The capsule walls fall away and release three globose seeds with a white, tallow-containing covering. Seeds usually hang on the plants for several weeks. The tree is found throughout the southern United States. It is cultivated in parts of India.

Identification credit: Gurcharan Singh Photographed in Srinagar, Kashmir & Mcleodganj, Himachal Pradesh.

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