Germplasm, chemical constituents, biological activities, utilization, and control of Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera (L.) Small).
Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera, also known as Sapium sebiferum) is an important oil seed crop in its native China but has become a noxious invasive species in USA. This review covers 601 publications since 1946. To date, grape (var. conferticarpa), chicken claw (var. laxiarpa), long claw, and mixed types are recognized within the species with 77 compounds isolated from various tissues. Some of the known 13 tetracyclic diterpenoids or phorbols showed pro-inflammatory and skin irritant activities or antibacterial and antiviral activities. In contrast, leaf extracts of T. sebifera showed analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities in animal models. Tallow leaves have been used to treated bacterial infections in birds and fish in China and also showed molluscicidal activities. Seed fats and oils have a long history of uses in China. The seed aril has been used to produce Chinese tallow cocoa butter equivalent since the late 1980s, but product quality and cost need improvement. The kernel oil showed promising potential for biodiesel production. In USA, the plantings were well developed before the mid-1900s since it introduced in 1772. The tree spread quickly in the southeastern USA due to its high fertility, fast growth and broad adaptability, lack of natural enemies, increasing habitat fragmentation, disturbance events like hurricanes, and selection and development of superior high-seed yield cultivars/clones. It is now considered as one of the worst invasive species in the area. Its conventional herbicide, biological, and mechanical control methods are costly, and either largely ineffective or not environmental friendly.