Chinese Pistache Issues: Chinese Pistache Tree Losing Leaves And Other Problems

Chinese Pistache
Chinese Pistache
(Image credit: TrongNguyen)

Gardeners love Chinese pistache trees (Pistacia chinensis) for their graceful structure and vivid fall color. Many plant these deciduous trees to enjoy their fiery foliage. However, if you see your Chinese pistache tree losing leaves during the growing season, there’s a problem. Early Chinese pistache leaf drop or leaf yellowing often results from an irrigation issue, but it can also signal more serious problems. Read on for tips on handling these Chinese pistache issues.

What’s Wrong with My Chinese Pistache?

No landscape tree is entirely problem free, and this includes Chinese pistache. This ornamental is prized for its brilliant fall color before leaf drop, but if your Chinese pistache leaf drop starts before summer’s end, you’ll need to evaluate the care the tree is getting and its state of health.

Are you seeing problems with your tree and wondering: “what’s wrong with my Chinese pistache?” Start to figure it out by evaluating the cultural care you are giving the tree.

A healthy, established Chinese pistache will be lush with green leaves until summer’s end. At that point, the foliage turns yellow, red, or orange in a stunning autumn display. Did your tree drop leaves early, or do you see other Chinese pistache problems like yellowing or drying leaves before fall? These issues can be caused by anything from transplant adjustment to cultural issues to pests and diseases.

Chinese Pistache Problems

If you have recently transplanted the tree, especially a mature specimen, into your backyard, the pistache can require several years before it recovers from the shock. Any Chinese pistache issues that develop in that period may well disappear the following year.

If you spot a well-established Chinese pistache losing leaves in summer, or if the leaves change color or wilt early, take a look at the amount of water the tree is getting. Improper irrigation is a top cause of these Chinese pistache problems.

Too little irrigation or too much can cause Chinese pistache leaf drop. Has your region seen unusual periods of drought this year? That could be the problem. Provide additional irrigation during dry stretches so that the tree gets the water it needs.

If you’ve seen lots of rain this year, your tree may be getting too much water. You’ll want to stop providing supplemental irrigation during wet periods. It’s also wise to check drainage and aerate the soil.

Chinese pistache leaf drop may not be related to irrigation. If your tree is getting the same water it usually gets, yet you notice yellowing or falling leaves, it may be pests or disease.

Sucking bugs, like aphids and scale, can attack a Chinese pastiche tree, causing yellowed, distorted leaves. Look for tiny aphid bugs with pear-shaped bodies grouping on the leaves. Soft scales on leaves look more like small bumps on twigs and foliage. Wash off the pests with soapy water or non-toxic products.

Finally, a Chinese pistache losing leaves can be a sign of a serious fungal disease called verticillium wilt. You’ll see yellowed, curled leaves on lower branches that fall early. This disease cannot be cured, but you can often prevent it by providing the tree with well-draining soil.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.