Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Sapium sebiferum (L.) Roxb.

Half hardy small tree, similar to a Poplar, with pointed, ovate leaves, often turning brilliant red in autumn, and slender racemes of greenish-yellow flowers. The waxy coat of the seeds is used to make candles in China.  To 12m.  [RHSD, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

Introduced to Britain in 1703.  [JD].  ‘Is now very common about Calcutta, where, in the course of a few years it is become one of the most common trees.  It is in flower and fruit most part of the year. […] In Bengal it is only considered as an ornamental tree; the sebaceous produce of its seeds is not in sufficient quantity, nor its qualities so valuable as to render it an object worthy of cultivation.  Cocoa-nut oil is better for the lamp, and it is only during very cool weather that this substance becomes firm; at all other times it is in a thick, brownish, fluid state, and soon becomes rancid.  Such is my opinion of the famous vegetable tallow of China.’  [Roxburgh FI vol.3 p.693/1832].

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [T.949/1843].


Published Feb 20, 2010 - 02:48 PM | Last updated Jul 18, 2010 - 03:37 PM

Family Euphorbiaceae
Region of origin


  • Stillingia sebifera Michx.
  • Croton sebiferum L.
  • Triadica sinensis Lour.
  • Stillingfleetia sebifera Boj.
Common Name

Chinese tallow tree, Vegetable tallow tree

Name in the Camden Park Record

Stillingia sebifera - Chinese tallow tree

Confidence level high