Chinese tallow tree (Sapium sebiferum) utilization: characterization of extractives and cell-wall chemistry
Wood, bark, and the wax-coated seeds from Chinese tallow tree (Sapium sebiferum (L.) Roxb. syn. Triadica sebifera (L.) Small), an invasive tree species in the southeastern United States, were subjected to extractions and degradative chemical analyses in an effort to better understand the mechanism(s) by which this tree species aggressively competes against native vegetation, and also to facilitate utilization efforts. Analysis of the wood extractives by FTIR spectroscopy showed functionalities analogous to those in hydrolyzable tannins, which appeared to be abundant in the bark; as expected, the seeds had a high wax/oil content (43.1%). Compared to other fast-growing hardwoods, the holocellulose content for the Chinese tallow tree wood was somewhat higher (83.3%). The alpha-cellulose (48.3%) and Klason lignin (20.3%) contents were found to be similar to those for most native North American hardwoods. Results suggest that Chinese tallow tree wood utilization along with commercial wood species should not present any significant processing problems related to the extractives or cell-wall chemistry.